Western Cape Tourist AttractionsGouda Wind Farm
The Gouda wind farm, the largest wind farm in the Western Cape, lies 115 km north east of Cape Town. Its 46 three-MW turbines joined the grid in September 2015, the first wind farm in the country to use concrete towers instead of the usual steel towers.
ACCIONA, one of the consortium partners responsible for the Gouda plant, advocates that concrete wind turbine towers will effectively 'turbocharge' the industry. Not only do they have more of an impact on the local economy, but they can achieve greater tower height and local manufacture of the segments is easier close to the wind farms, leaving production and transport costs greatly reduced.
The Gouda towers are 100 metres high, as opposed to other wind farm sites where steel towers are 80 metres. As towers get taller with longer blades, the energy output is improved, especially at lower wind speed sites.
For places like Europe, where high wind sites have already been exploited, taller towers allow medium and low wind locations to open up as possible wind farm sites
Gouda's wind farm produced an annual 423 GWh, enough to supply roughly 200 000 homes with clean energy.
The increase in wind farm production across the country is part of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) initiated in 2011 and resulting in a huge upswing of renewable energy in South Africa, especially in wind farms.
In only three years the country secured more investment than across the African continent in the past 20 years. By September 2015 92 renewable projects, producing 6 234 MW, had been established through the REIPPPP process.
The upswing in the number of wind farms has greatly reduced the price of wind energy making it one of the most viable renewable energy sources in the country. A CSIR report suggested that, during the first half of 2015, wind energy saved South Africa R1.8bn more than it cost Eskom to buy the power.
The wind farms go up at no cost to the public, after which Eskom buys the power from the private producers. A good percentage of the earnings is reinvested in the local community.