Exploring Sustainable Energy Options

In line with its Environmental Sustainability 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.


Sustainable or 'renewable energy' options help us to improve energy efficiency. Some technologies tend to cost more, initially, but it quickly pays for itself. There are also advantages associated with reduced dependence on non-renwable energy resources such as oil and coal. And what can be more satisfying than enjoying home comforts such as cooked food and hot showers without having to pay the health and safety costs associated with dirty coal-fired power




Makana Wind Farm

Winds of Change video. Rhodes University is supportive of this 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 24MW wind farm is expected to meet Grahamstown's 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 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 and elegant). 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. The Waainek wind farm is one of a number of commercial wind farms  operating 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).

Rhodes University Alumnis David Lipschitz (1986) has developed an "off the grid" Power Station installation. More info: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LT1AF4ycAQY


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Last Modified: Mon, 21 May 2018 15:29:25 SAST