While there is not a significant skills deficit in the South African wind energy industry, primarily the result of on-the-job training, there is a need to formalise the training and invest more substantially in local community training, says renewable-energy and sustainability consulting firm AltGen Consulting’s Sarah Stands.
Further, the industry has created a need for more trained professionals, such as turbine technicians, large-inverter programmers, engineers, contract managers and quality managers in South Africa, she says.
Stands adds that, in addition to the technical skills, other skills – such as work ethic, reliability, communication and punctuality – are also required.
“However, one of the challenges is that many skilled South Africans do not want to relocate to rural areas [which is where most of the wind farms are located].”
Nevertheless, this will benefit rural communities, since “there will be more training across the value chain to benefit local communities, including for the construction phase of wind farms”.
However, Stands says the most signficant challenge will be to create meaningful jobs that are directly involved in wind project activities.
Compared with other technologies, wind is the most cost-effective source of utility-scale energy on the grid in South Africa, with an average tariff of 74c/kWh, Stands says.
However, the success of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) is far from being realised, as it is only three years into the 20- to 25-year public–private partnership between independent power producers and government, she adds.
Nevertheless, the wind energy industry is performing well in terms of job creation beneficiaries, with an average minimum of 31 permanent jobs created for each wind farm, a minimum of 93.5% of jobs being allocated to local citizens and only 6.5% of jobs being allocated to foreigners.
Furthermore, “73% of jobs will be reserved for black citizens”, exceeding all the targets set by the request for proposal during the bidding process of the REIPPPP, she says.