Eastern Cape Tourist AttractionsJeffrey's Bay Wind Farm
Where? Jeffreys Bay, Sunshine Coast, Eastern Cape
How? Call 0860 333 384
One of the largest wind farms in South Africa is 60 turbines spanning 3 700 hectares of farm land between Jeffrey's Bay and Humansdorp. It produces enough clean, renewable energy to power over 115 000 average households.
The N2 runs right through the wind farm, making it a great conversation piece and generating a great deal of interest in the wind farm. So much so, that there are plans to develop a visitors' centre at the site.
Each turbine is gigantic, standing 80 metres tall with blades that are 49 metres long. Whilst this might sound relatively benign, what this entailed in transport was rather phenomenal. The trucks were 60 metres long and no fewer than 480 loads travelled between the Port of Ngqura (a deepwater port 20 km northeast of Port Elizabeth) and the wind farm near Humansdorp, between July 2013 and January 2014.
The 138 MW wind farm is part of South Africa's renewable energy programme and is one of Africa's biggest wind farms, larger even than Ethiopia's 120 MW Ashegoda wind farm. Only Tarfaya wind farm, in Morocco, is larger, set to generate as much as 300 MW of electricity.
The turbines are visible on the N2 after passing the turnoff to Jeffrey's Bay. Not only do they represent clean, green energy but the wind farm also represents income for the local community.
Of the people working on the site to erect the turbines, 520 were drawn from the local community and the project will reinvest 6% of its operational revenues into the local community to create the skills to help support the renewable energy industry in the country, sustaining 98 permanent jobs in the future.
There are many benefits to wind energy, including cutting carbon emissions, preventing load-shedding, creating jobs and training people. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research produced a report revealing that wind energy produced a net savings of R1.8 billion in the first half of 2015 (they calculated cost savings created by wind energy that replaced fossil fuel-generated power, plus the savings made by avoiding load-shedding and diminishing emissions).
A wind farm typically generates electricity 80% of the time. In Europe to get a capacity of 20% to 30% is regarded as really good. Projects in South Africa are doing even better. The Jeffrey's Bay wind farm runs just under 40%. Some of the other wind farms around the country are in the mid 40s.
Wind energy production is now 25% cheaper than coal in South Africa.