|Energy Minister Dipuo Peters
DCD Wind Towers on Thursday joined a list of large renewable energy projects in the Eastern Cape when the sod was turned at its R300 million wind tower manufacturing facility.
The project is expected to create 200 operational jobs and 600 construction jobs. It is anticipated it will produce between 110 and 120 wind towers a year.
Most of the operational jobs are in artisan fields, including boiler making, fitting and turning and chamfering, as well as shot blasting.
The provincial department of economic development said the coastal province had a number of natural advantages for renewable energy, including a long coastline with strong wave power, lots of sunlight and consistent winds off the sea.
The project by DCD is a partnership with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and the Coega Development Corporation (CDC), and is located at Coega’s industrial development zone (IDZ) near Port Elizabeth.
The government aims to generate 17 800 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy by 2030. The IDC said globally, wind power was the second largest contributor to renewable electricity after hydro power.
The basket of renewable energy investors at the Coega IDZ include Belgian company Electrawinds, Innowind, EAB Astrum Energy and PhytoEnergy.
The CDC said it expected wind and solar investments in the IDZ to create about 6 000 direct and 5 000 indirect jobs over the course of construction and operations of these projects.
Speaking before the turning of the sod at the DCD facility, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said her department was already gearing up for the third round of the renewable energy independent power producer procurement (REIPPP) programme, having selected bidders for a total of 2 614MW to be added to the national grid by 2016.
The announcement for the next window will be made later this month.
She said a number of successful bidders had already embarked on construction work at various sites, particularly in the Eastern Cape, where she turned the sod marking the launch of the MetroWind Van Stadens Farm and Red Cap Kouga Wind Farm projects.
“This and other strategic economic development projects within the region ought to play a meaningful role in the improvement of our people’s standards of living,” Peters said. “The pervasive nature of unemployment, poverty and inequality, particularly in this province, cannot be ignored.”
She said achieving skills transfer, community uplifment and localisation were the centre of the government’s renewable energy programme. It is a programme that is, through its design and implementation, biased towards local economic development.
“This joint venture between CDC Wind Towers, the IDC and Coega epitomises the localisation strategy that the Department of Energy advocates for in the REIPPP. It is through localisation that local industries and small-, medium- and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs) get to benefit from our infrastructure and build projects,” Peters said.
She said not only would the DCD project create jobs, but it would also increase knowledge and skills within the area. Education, training and skills development should be prioritised as all jobs created in the renewable energy space had the potential of being turned into careers.
Peters said women empowerment was a transformation imperative that was often overlooked. It was her observation in other projects that women were not adequately represented in managerial positions. “While it should be appreciated that some women do get employed in construction and other areas, there should be fair representation of women in decision-making organs and management echelons.”