Wind Industry Commits to Impact Development in South Africa

South Africa wind industry adopts Commitment Statement
From left: SAWEA Chair, Tebogo Movundlela, SA Energy Ministry Director General, Thabane Zulu & SAWEA CEO, Brenda Martin (SAWEA)

South Africa – Members of the South Africa Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) have adopted a wind industry Commitment Statement which sets out a vision for optimising the industry’s long-term investment in the physical, social, environmental and economic development of the country.

“The Wind Industry’s Commitment to South Africa” statement was adopted at an annual general meeting of SAWEA and launched as a brochure at the annual Windaba event held in Cape Town on 7 and 8 November 2018.

“Our aim over time is to transform and indigenise leadership at all levels in the South African Renewable Energy sector,” says the commitment statement.

“It has been rewarding to coordinate the drafting of the industry commitment to South Africa and in the process to consider what we are able to contribute to socio-economic transformation over a 20-year time horizon,” says Brenda Martin, CEO of SAWEA. “Being aware of the fears experienced by those affected by the energy transition underway in South Africa, we are articulating our ability to making meaningful contributions to employment creation and socio-economic transformation.”

The Commitment Statement notes some distinct industry features, which can be leveraged.

One key feature is that the REIPPPP has a built-in demand for local procurement, which not only offers business opportunities to local companies, but it also incentivises the wind industry to identify emerging entrepreneurs, especially in rural areas, and assist them to achieve high performance goals.

While the wind industry is able to use its own clout to assist emerging entrepreneurs in accessing finance, it also sees opportunities to sculpt a management and employment profile which reflects fair and ethical culture that enables skills development and advancement of the young, the disadvantaged and for women. In addition, the industry sees prospects to grow a people and ownership profiles reflective of the demographics of South Africa.

“Contract terms demand that wind industry players seek opportunities to make contributions to local social and economic development within each operator’s catchment area (a radius of 50 kilometres). This has evolved; companies now able to voluntarily extend their activities while meeting their contractual obligations, with the aim of making long-term impacts beyond compliance,” the statement also says.

With several rounds of accepted bids behind them, key members of SAWEA have had some years of experience in implementing the requirements engineered into the contracts.  However, the wind industry in South Africa remains relatively young and recognises the opportunity to set a charter early on to serve as a touchstone for the maturing industry.

“This is the springboard upon which this young industry can grow,” says Martin. “It captures what we’ve learnt thus far and crafts that insight into a foundation for creating a flourishing future; a foundation that is solid but also flexible, capable of adapting to evolving socio-economic transformation needs.”

Toni Beukes, Country Manager for Vestas Southern Africa and Chairperson of SAWEA’S Wind for Communities Working Group and one of the task team members involved in shaping the Commitment Statement pointed out that commitment for South Africa’s young wind industry has a very different time horizon than charters and other similar documents which aim to reverse-engineer conditions in other mature industries.

“The arc of impact for socio-economic interventions takes us 20 years into the future,” Beukes says. “Over that period, significant funding will be generated – the first three rounds of bidding alone have produced over R1 billion for local community development. The potential inherent in ample time and ample funding has drawn industry players into collaboration.”

“Funds and effort will have more impact if we work together. Our reach into communities often overlaps geographically, so we have begun to look for the best ways to collaborate to support socio-economic change locally,” adds Beukes.

Also commenting on the Commitment Statement, Lukhanyo Ndube, CEO of Kouga Wind Farm, says, “the statement is not a list of items to be achieved to the T – it’s a conversation document, bringing us all together in discussion as an industry.”

Hein Reyneke, CEO of Mainstream Renewable Power South Africa says the Commitment Statement lays the foundations for the culture of the wind industry and it is a solid guide based on real-life experience, which can be used in the next phase to make pragmatic choices, to find ways to hold each other accountable, and to set tangible, measurable goals.