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Climate Smart Agriculture Talks: Wind farming a new energy mine for agriculture

From November 1 to 12, 2021, all international routes will head to the Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, United Kingdom.

Ahead of the much-anticipated conference, the global wind energy industry is the unlikely dark horse to hog the spotlight.

Speaking after a successful launch of the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) in March, its newly CEO Ben Backwell, said members agreed to ramp up efforts to decarbonise the world with clean energy technology.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) earlier in the year entered into an agreement with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) to aid the agri-food industry.

“Renewable energy is essential for agri-food systems transformation, climate resilience and net-zero strategies. Through our collaboration, we aim to generate and share knowledge, innovative products and technologies, as well as data and information. This agreement will allow us to strengthen the role of renewable energy within FAO’s Initiatives,” Qu Dongyu, FAO Director-General said in a statement after a virtual MOU was signed in January.

Countries such as Spain, United States, Vietnam, China reported productivity using wind energy with other planning to double wind power.

In South Africa’s case, only a handful of players are involved in wind farming. It is however hoped that the gazetted amendments to the Electricity Regulations on New Generation Capacity, as announced in September 2020, will provide municipalities to either develop or obtain their own power-generation capacity from Independent Power Producers (IPP’s).

South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA), a member of GWEC, welcome the amendments proposed by the energy department.

“This decentralized way of procuring power is a step closure to a broader energy transition that the country needs to increase its power generation, which will sustain local economic activity and can further support the farming community,” said Ntombifuthi Ntuli, CEO of SAWEA.

According to SAWEA, there was vast potential for farmers to generate additional incomes more particularly in leasing their land to wind producers as the price of fuel and electricity in the country was ballooning.

Besides this benefit, ‘building wind energy hubs’ was a favoured approach by GWEC, to rally government and commit to targets. For agriculture, wind energies have no emissions and preserves water making it ideal for drought resistance.

Installing wind turbine technologies in rural communities has the potential to create jobs in manufacturing and introduce a new set of skill wind turbine technicians.

The Department of Minerals and Energy recently announced 8 preferred bidders that will provide energy solutions in Solar PV, Wind, Liquified natural gas and battery storage.

“In October 2020, in response to the President’s directives on the Recovery Plan, we set ourselves a target of Thirteen Thousand Eight Hundred and Thirteen megawatts (13 813 MW), to be delivered from a mix of energy sources” said the Minister of Minerals and Energy Gwede Mantashe.

The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) concurred with a Section 34 Determination to procure Eleven Thousand Eight Hundred and Thirteen (11 813), 4 800 megawatts reserved for wind energy.

Additional report by Yali AgC

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