(13 May 2012) Pioneering Cape Town wind power company Isivunguvungu Wind Energy Converter (Pty) Ltd. (I-WEC) on Friday played host to a delegation from the First Forum of the Africa-EU Energy Partnership that was held in Cape Town from 9 to 10 May 2012, including Dr Elham Ibrahim, the African Union Commissioner of Infrastructure and Energy.
Over 100 delegates from various governmental agencies and departments, academic institutions and energy research groups across Africa and the European union visited I-WEC’s workshop in Table Bay Harbour in Cape Town, where they were given a presentation on I-WEC’s pioneering wind energy work and shown I-WEC’s first prototype 50m wind turbine blade.
The Africa-EU Energy Partnership aims to increase the effectiveness of African and European efforts to secure reliable and sustainable energy services in the coming decades on both continents, and to extend access to modern energy services and expand the use of renewable energy in Africa. The visit to I-WEC aimed to showcase how South Africa is rising to the challenge of developing local renewable energy solutions to meet the continent’s energy needs.
I-WEC is the first company in Africa to manufacture multi-megawatt wind turbine blades and will with a number of partners erect the first multi-megawatt wind turbines in Africa, measuring about 130 meters in height, on the West Coast later this year.
Commenting on her visit, Dr Ibrahim said that it is important for the AU to see how local companies are taking on this challenge. “We cannot only focus on acquiring renewable energy technology – it is important that we also build our own capacities. European renewable energy technology is more advanced than here in Africa, so it makes sense for European companies to create joint ventures with African countries – we get their technical expertise, and they get the chance to do business in our markets.”
She added that Cape Town could play a pivotal role and be an important part of the mix of renewable energy on the continent. “We could see local renewable energy production filter from Cape Town through to the rest of Africa. What we may also see in future is cities and regions specialising in the production of specific components for renewable energy products, which would encourage greater collaboration between different countries and may significantly bolster Africa’s own production capacity.”
Thomas Schaal, I-WEC co-founder and spokesperson, said they are about to begin stress-testing the first prototype of their locally-produced multi-megawatt wind turbine blades and will soon move to full production. “The Africa-EU Energy Partnership delegation’s visit was an opportune time for our international guests to witness behind the scenes how South Africa is stepping up to implement renewable energy solutions to meet the country’s energy needs. With our first turbine nearing completion, we will soon have a proof point to illustrate the world-class design of our wind turbines and use this to encourage local companies and suppliers to move to the clean energy the turbines produce.”
I-WEC obtained its licence from the German renewable energy company Aerodyn.
For more information about I-WEC, please visit www.i-wec.co.za