The wind measurement masts for the South African Wind Energy Project (Sawep) would be erected and start gathering data by July, after which a website publishing the data would be up and running by September, project manager André Otto said on Tuesday.
Otto told Engineering News Online that the environmental-impact assessment (EIA) studies for all ten locations where the masts would be put up have been finalised, and they would be installed and operational by the end of July.
Sawep would set up a website, and once the systems were verified, it would publish the wind measurement data that it captures from the masts, once a month.
This data could be downloaded by all interested parties and potential investors, from the website, free of charge.
Otto said it was important to have the best quality information on that website, so that the questions from industry could be well answered.
Once the system has been up and running for 12 months, which was expected by the third quarter of 2011, Sawep could start compiling a proper atlas. However, people could start using the data in the interim.
When questioned on whether the wind atlas might be considered too late, as many investors were already starting with their own wind measurements and projects, Otto emphasised that the information would be available to all those who could not afford to do tests, and added that large wind projects were only expected in South Africa by 2015.
In addition to the wind atlas project, Sawep was busy with a capacity credits study, as well as establishing standards for equipment and components, as well as standards for measurement equipment and data, and testing and certification of systems.
The capacity credits study was being conducted in conjunction with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Eskom and the Department of Energy (DoE) . Otto explained that it would investigate grid connection and whether or not the existing grid could handle the wind power generated, and whether the system operator could handle it.
Another big focus at Sawep was on training of artisans and technicians, who would have the skills to operate and maintain wind turbines. Engineering, construction and manufacturing skills would need to be developed.
The wind atlas project was funded through R5-million from the DoE, with the Danish embassy in South Africa providing R20-million.
June 15 was global wind day, which Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas celebrated by announcing the establishment of a permanent office in South Africa, to serve the Southern African region.
Vestas has supplied wind turbines to the recently commissioned Electrawinds project in Coega, which would generate power for the stadium in Port Elizabeth during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, as well as for Eskom’s Klipheuwel project in the Western Cape.