Exploring Sustainable Energy Options
Darling wind farm, W Cape
In line with its Environmental Policy, Rhodes University aims to improve energy efficiency. Sunny South Africa, and its windy coastal regions, is the perfect place for renewable energy and energy efficiency. There are many sustainable energy options - though of course, some may be more sustainable than others. While initial capital costs tend to be higher, in the long run, it's worth it. There can be nothing more satisfying than enjoying home comforts such as cooked food and hot showers without having to pay the costs associated with dirty coal-fired power.
Elegant symbol of clean energy
Makana Wind Farm
Rhodes University is supportive of this proposed project, for the following reasons:
- Social upliftment. Through the 26% equity share holding of the Makana Winds of Change Trust, a substantial amount of profits derived from the wind farm will be ploughed back into the communities within the Makana Municipality towards multiple community-based initiatives. The primary focus of the Trust will be education funding through scholarships and bursaries for the advancement of learners.
- Energy security. The planned 30MW wind farm is expected to generate more than the Grahamstown consumption when the wind allows. As a matter of fact, initial assessments show a close correlation between peak consumption and high wind speeds (which tend to occur at day time and during cold fronts). Since the wind farm is planned to be connected on the Grahamstown municipal grid, the electricity generated will flow primarily to the loads connected on this grid, such as Rhodes University, the municipal buildings etc., thus increasing Grahamstown’s energy security against load shedding and allowing for higher loads in the future.
- Clean energy. Electricity generated by wind farms is free of emissions and does not rely on depletable fuels. In South Africa where 90% of the electricity produced from Eskom comes from coal, each MW produced from wind is equivalent to 1 ton of Carbon Dioxide (C02) – together with other gases - not released into the atmosphere.
- Low environmental impacts. The impacts related to the facility have been assessed in depth in the EIA report compiled by CES. It appears that the impact ranked highest is the visual impact, which we believe is the most subjective one (some people find wind turbines ‘beautiful’ or ‘appeasing’). Impacts on the ecosystem were ranked ‘medium’ to ‘low’, leading the independent environmental practitioner (CES) to recommend the establishment of the facility, provided that a few minor modifications in the layout be performed.
- Academic opportunities. Should the project go ahead, the Waainek wind farm may be one of the first commercial wind farms to operate in South Africa. Its proximity to Rhodes University (which has fully endorsed the project) provides exciting research opportunities relating to wind farms, in areas such as environmental science, economics, social science etc.
- National interest. The South African government body has set forward a number of objectives relating to the generation of clean energy in the country. These have the triple goal of increasing the country’s energy security, decreasing its dependence on coal and reducing its carbon emissions, as per the Kyoto protocol (ratified by South Africa).
Get involved in the ACTION:
- Solar cooking: Smokeless outdoor cooking (it beats braaivleis) using an energy source that is absolutely FREE: the sun. SA supplier info: Association for Renewable Energy Cooking Appliances (AFRECA ).
- Solar lighting: No need to feel lost during those power cuts. SA supplier info: Gener8.
- Solar water heating: Linked to Eskom's rebate system, it also cuts your monthly domestic energy costs by up to 40%. Learn about an Australian case study. SA supplier info (in alphabetical order): Gener8, Solien, SunPower, Tasol.
- Wind energy: This can be linked to a favourable Renewable Energy Feed-In Tariff (REFIT) by the National Energy Regulator. SA supplier info (in alphabetical order): African Wind Power, Eveready, Kestrel, Solien.
If you know of other supplier contact info, please let us know on environment(at)ru.ac.za
Need MORE INFO?
Go to the Rhodes University ENVIRONMENT front page