South Africa is celebrating their Wind Energy Week, this week. A week that will focus the minds of business leaders and engineers, all over the country, on the positive effect more wind energy infrastructure could have in the country. Most notably, a two-day conference is being held in Cape Town that will focus on the theme: Towards 100% Renewables. Three other events are also being held, all in the name of renewable energy with the specific focus on wind energy.
A report by Global Data predicted, by 2020, South Africa is looking to benefit from a further 3 gigawatts (GW) of wind energy, that would bring the country to 5.6 GW. They are joining the 82 other countries in the world that benefit from wind turbine provided energy. South Africa is also in the top 10 renewable energy investment countries in the world, according to a report issued by Bloomberg last year.
The country is currently chasing a goal of having 17.8 GW of production belonging to renewable energy, and natural gas supplying the other 3.1 GW. That would supply 82 percent of the power in the country. Presumably, the rest will be supplied via coal-fired power plants.
South Africa is moving towards natural gas and renewable energy production at a fast rate. A local ratings agency known as Moody's praised South Africa as the fastest-growing green economy in the world last year. Similarly, in the private sector, new malls and cities being built are all abiding by green standards.
South Africa's energy supply has struggled to cope with demand in recent years. Two coal-fired power stations - meant to bridge the gap - have seen construction delays for quite some time. As a result, loadshedding (forced rolling blackouts) had to be put into place to balance the grid. Therefore, engineers are looking to implement renewable solutions that could, in the future, power South African homes and businesses.
The demand from the public for further renewable energy innovation in South Africa reached a pinnacle this week, in the form of a protest by Greenpeace. The NGO's members protested outside of the Shoprite headquarters in Cape Town yesterday, to demand that the the retailer (Shoprite is South Africa's biggest retailer) power their stores with renewable energy. Greenpeace claims that Shoprite has the worst track record pertaining to the adoption of renewable energy. This according to their report, Shopping Clean: Retailers and Renewable Energy. In the report, the organization states that companies should be committing to an ambitious 100% renewable energy goal.
"If Woolworths, for example, were to be 100% renewable energy powered, this would liberate enough electricity for 55,000 households in South Africa. Pick n Pay's electricity consumption is enough to power 65,000 households while Massmart and Spar could power 53,000 and 5,400 households respectively," the NGO wrote. Therefore, their protest outside of Shoprite's headquarters begins to make more sense.
Thus, South African companies could look to the example being set by companies overseas. IKEA, the international home furnishing store, has made a pledge that would see all of the stores in their chain powered by renewable energy by 2020. According to the Guardian, IKEA enjoyed a comfortable profit of $33 billion in 2015. Some of the profits will go toward funding photovoltaic solar solutions and WIND POWER.
Companies making high profits could build their own wind farms and put solar panels on their roofs. Walmart secured a deal with Pattern Energy to power their stores through wind farms.Other companies have joined the RE100 climate group, along with IKEA, in pledging that they will power their buildings only through renewable means. The companies include Apple, BMW Group, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Facebook, General Electric, General Motors, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Philips, Tata Motors, Walmart and more.