Study claims offshore wind farms could fulfill all of SA’s power demand

A study conducted by the Stellenbosch University concluded that offshore wind farms, if built in certain areas of South Africa, could potentially meet all of country’s electricity demands. The research led by Gordon Rae and Dr. Gareth Erfort involved use geographic information system methods to discover the potential of offshore wind energy in South Africa.

It was found that there were a total of six suitable areas across the Richards Bay, Durban and Struisbaai in the Western Cape, and that installation of wind turbines at different depths in these areas could potentially help generate about 15% and 800% more power than SA’s annual electricity demand.

The report stated that if wind turbines were to be installed in deep waters across these areas, they could deliver 2,387.08 TWh (terawatt hours) in electricity per year. While turbines established in shallow waters could deliver 44.52 terawatt hours of power.

Notably, South Africa’s annual electricity consumption is less than 300 TWh, which makes offshore wind farms an ideal fit to meet the country’s annual electricity demand with ease.

American Geosciences Institute claims that offshore winds are faster than that on land, making offshore-wind farms more efficient in energy generation in contrast to land-based wind farms. The institute further reports that offshore winds at 24km/h can help a turbine generate twice as much energy compared to 19km/h wind on land.

Sources suggest that Rae and Erfort’s findings could help develop South Africa’s local market for offshore wind energy. The country has witnessed introduction of foreign wind energy players over the past. In 2020, Hexicon, a Swedish floating windfarm maker, became one of the first companies to show interest in SA’s offshore wind sector. The firm launched a new joint venture (JV) with a native company to explore the potential of generating electricity from offshore wind in the country.