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South African wind energy body acknowledges industry leaders

By Stephen Forder on 6 November 2015
SAWEA Chairperson, Heather Sonn, Minister of Energy, Tina Joemat-Pettersson and Energy Advisor to the President, Silas Zimu being entertained at the annual SAWEA Gala Dinner

Wind energy leaders were recognised for their contributions to the industry last night at an awards dinner for more than 300 guests held as part of Windaba 2015, the South African Wind Energy Association's (SAWEA) annual conference.

In additon to the traditional categories, two special accolades of ‘Wind Energy Pioneer Award’ were bestowed upon two individuals for outstanding services to the industry. Considered the highest honour, these awards were given to Mark Tanton, Managing Director of Red Cap Investments and Ayanda Nakedi, Senior General Manager at Eskom’s Renewables Business.

According to SAWEA CEO Johan van den Berg, “we have a fantastic industry full of highly skilled and committed individuals and organisations. Being able to honour these achievements is one of the best parts of my role. This year we wanted to give credit to two people who have offered so much to our sector and been an integral part of getting us to where we are today a flourishing and successful market.”

The evening was not without some degree of controversy, however, as concern was expressed about the degree of transformation that had taken place in the wind energy industry over the roughly four years of its short existence. At the surface, the gala event which was attended by the Minister of Energy Tina Joemat-Pettersson, did not reflect a transformed industry and the discussion on this spilled over into the conference proceedings the next day in a session entitled "Seizing the Opportunities to Transform Our Society."

Speaking at the session, Karen Breytenbach, Head of the Independent Power Producer Office, reminded industry participants that the Government had done everything in its power to invite the private sector into the lucrative electricity sector and had set various socio-economic and local economic development thresholds and targets for each of the projects, but that it was their job to "make sure that we do adhere to what is important for transforming our society in terms of black economic empowerment".

Access to finance, access to industry opportunities and the capacity of emerging black businesses to respond to market opportunities along with the degree of committment by foreign-based companies to the local transformation agenda were all highlighted as barriers to a transformed and representative industry.

Heather Sonn, Chairperson of the South African Wind Energy Association, called on the industry to tackle the transformation agenda head on, suggesting a period of introspection from participants. "Black people must lead. We need to get into a situation where across the colour line we start seeing people as leaders and asking questions that inform the direction of our country".

Sonn concluded the session saying that "we are seeing last night as a milestone moment and we have heard what the challenges are across the sector and will be taking them on and will review where we are in twelve months time". She referred to the industry as having reached an "inflection point" in her closing address of Windaba 2015 later the same day.  

Besides the Wind Energy Pioneer Awards, other winners announced at the gala dinner included:

Preferred bidders, REIPPP round 4

  • BioTherm Energy for Golden Valley Wind Farm
  • Renewable Energy Systems for Oyster Bay Wind Farm
  • G7 Energies for Roggeveld Wind farm
  • African Clean Energy Developments for Karusa Wind Farm
  • African Clean Energy Developments for Nxuba Wind Farm

Preferred bidders, REIPPP round 4+

  • African Clean Energy Developments for Soetwater Wind Farm
  • Mainstream Renewable Power for Kangnas Wind Farm
  • Mainstream Renewable Power for Perdekraal East Wind Farm
  • BioTherm Energy for Excelsior Wind Farm
  • Innowind for Wesley-Ciskei Wind Farm
  • Gestamp Renewables for Copperton Wind Farm
  • Juwi Energy for Garob Wind Farm

Preferred Lender - ABSA Bank

Preferred Developer - Mainstream Renewable Power

Preferred Original Equipment Manufacturer - Siemens

Preferred Environmental Consultant on Wind Projects - Savannah Environmental

Preferred Wind Energy Law Firm of the Year - Norton Rose Fulbright

Best Journalistic Coverage of Wind Energy - Carol Paton, Business Day

Best Academic/Research & Development Contribution to Wind Power in SA - Johan Nico Stander

Best Contribution to Local Content - Santie Gouws


Awards were also given to all the voluntary chairs of the 10 working groups



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