Most people have seen the large, futuristic wind turbines dotting the landscape in rural farming areas, with massive blades stretching into the sky. They certainly look impressive, but what are the actual advantages of using wind energy to generate electricity? Read on to find out.
Advantages of using wind energy in South Africa
- Wind is a free and infinite resource – Wind is a meteorological phenomenon that occurs naturally in the environment. Therefore, like sunshine or rain, it’s free, clean and will never run out. Anyone with the right equipment can harness the power of the wind to generate electricity, and it will always be available to use, unlike finite fossil fuels, which are quickly dwindling in supply. At present, more than 90% of South Africa’s energy is generated by coal-fired power stations.
- Wind is a clean energy source – Conventionally, fossil fuels have been used to generate electricity in most parts of the world. Apart from the fact that these are finite resources that will eventually run out, fossil fuels are also harmful to the environment when used to produce electricity. During combustion, fossil fuels such as coal emit many by-products into the atmosphere, two of which are carbon dioxide (CO2) and sulphur dioxide (SO2). Both these gases have been shown to contribute to the worsening climate crisis. Converting wind energy into electricity releases no harmful by-products into the environment.
- Wind energy projects create jobs – For every wind farm project that is established in South Africa, tens if not hundreds of jobs are created, for both skilled and unskilled workers. Often, experts are sought from around the country – and the world – to guide and train local workers, thus creating valuable opportunities for skills enhancement and knowledge transfer. Both temporary and permanent jobs are created by the establishment of every wind farm in South Africa.
- Wind energy brings electricity to rural communities – Most wind farm projects are set up in rural communities, as the land and environmental conditions are ideal for renewable energy initiatives. Wind farms bring clean, affordable and sustainable energy to these communities, as well as to other areas that don’t have access to electricity. Wind energy can also power schools, hospitals and clinics that wouldn’t otherwise have access to electricity.
- Wind farms reduce the dependency on fossil fuels – As mentioned earlier, fossil fuels are finite and at some point, they will run out. Wind farms, as well as other renewable energy initiatives, help to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, which means that if they do run out, South Africa won’t be left in darkness.