Coast KZN

15 May 2020

Floating wind farms explored for South Africa seas – where wind speeds are faster

(Business Insider SA) Picture: Hexicon

A Swedish floating windfarm developer has formed a joint venture with a South African company to explore offshore wind projects here. Seven potential sites have been identified. Wind speeds are faster offshore than on land, which means more energy can be generated.

The Swedish floating windfarm developer Hexicon has launched a new join venture with a local company to explore the possibility of generating electricity from offshore wind in South Africa. Hexicon is currently working with Shell to build what could eventually be the world’s first large scale floating wind farm in  South Korea.

The Swedish company is teaming up with the local company Genesis Eco-Energy Developments, which was involved in building wind farm projects in Jeffrey’s Bay in the Eastern Cape, as well as two farms in the Northern Cape.

Seven potential sites have been identified, Davin Chown, managing director of Genesis Eco-Energy Developments told Business Insider SA.

Chown says that the sites will be narrowed down as the company assesses factors including sea conditions. South Africa has fairly rough seas – which impacted exploration for the Brulpadda gas field. The fields would also need to be relatively close to the electricity grid and a port, but not in the way of marine traffic.

While onshore wind farms are currently cheaper than offshore option, this may not be the case in the long run, Chown says.

According to the American Geosciences Institute, offshore wind speeds tend to be faster than on land, which means that floating wind farms may be able to generate more energy than land-based wind farms. According to the institute, a turbine in 24km/h wind can generate twice as much energy as a turbine in 19km/h wind. “Faster wind speeds offshore mean much more energy can be generated.” Offshore wind speeds are also usually more stable than land wind speeds, which means a more reliable source of energy. But building floating wind farms is complex and expensive, and there are questions about the impact on marine animals.

This week, government dismissed appeals against plans for a large new wind farm near Strandfontein on the West Coast.  GroundUp reports that the Juno Wind Energy Facility, which is about five kilometres from the coast, will have 49 turbines, some of which will stand nearly 180m high. The Spanish renewable energy specialist AMDA will build the wind farm.