The annual Windaba 2016 Conference organized by the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) in partnership with the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) was held from 2 to 4 November in Cape Town (the Republic of South Africa).
The energy infrastructure of the countries of the African continent is much less developed than in the countries of other continents. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), about 600 million people in Africa do not have access to electricity at all (some facilities are not displayed in the statistics of total electricity generation, when people are non-networked and can use small, home solar systems to start household appliances, however this error is insignificant). In terms of electrical energy generation from renewable energy sources, the figure varies greatly from country to country, but such states as Ethiopia, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are close to 100 percent from renewables (mainly from hydropower facilities).
In addition to electrical energy generation, Africa still relies heavily on burning of wood and coal for heating and cooking. According to the IEA, about 730 million people in Africa use traditional biomass, which negatively affects the environment in terms of some of the region's problems: deforestation and air quality deterioration.
In December 2015, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (СОР21), the world community unanimously reached an amicable agreement to maintain an average temperature increase of the planet at a level of less than 2 degrees Celsius applicable to all countries until 2050. It is necessary to recognize that the African countries bear responsibility only for a small percentage of CO2 emissions (approximately 3.5% of global emissions, despite the fact that about 16% of the world's population lives there). And yet these states are implementing an active policy for renewable power generation development.
To date, Morocco and RSA are most actively investing in modern “green” power plants. But, despite this, the South African Republic still generates less than 3% of electric power from renewable energy sources.
This year the Windaba 2016 Conference was held under the slogan “Towards 100% renewable energy sources.” Having gathered the professionals of the wind power sector not only of its region, but the whole world, the conference aspired to solve complex issues (technical, political, financial, etc.) that influence the wind industry of the entire African continent and RSA in particular.
In turn, it should be noted that the South African Republic itself has excellent wind resources and is one of the most interesting emerging markets in the wind power sector of the world. Currently, RSA has a combined total of 1,053 MW of installed capacity of wind farms put into operation, and about 3,000 MW more at various stages of the implementation of projects. However, the Windaba annual exhibition states that it is systematically striving to take a long-term course for the development of wind power up to the values of 30,000 MW (of installed capacity) and more, and to define clearly, “What will this mean for the country, what needs to be done to achieve such results, and what issues need to be overcome?”
Director General of the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) Johan Van Den Berg reported, “The use of renewable energy sources in industry provides about 30% of all foreign direct investment to the country. It is important to take into account that we observe a permanent impairment of value of electric power from the wind, and low prices and sustainability are much-needed benefits throughout the continent.”