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Africa's inaugural wind industry conference concluded in Cape Town

By South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) on 3 November 2016
Students enjoying an educational visit to Biotherm Energy’s Dassiesklip Wind Farm

WindAc Africa, the first academic wind energy conference on the African continent, was concluded in Cape Town earlier this week. The two-day conference offered a forum for academics and researchers to share the latest data and intelligence on the finer technicalities of the wind energy industry.

The event also offered a unique learning opportunity for 30 carefully selected university students through a sponsorship programme, allowing them access to the conference, a site visit to Biotherm Energy’s Dassiesklip Wind Farm and a question and answer session with Dr Phil Mjwara, Director General of the Government’s Department of Science and Technology. 

Haltor Mataifa, a research student from Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), has found the experience invaluable: “I have been researching renewable energy for some time now, but this is the first academic event focussed on wind energy that I have attended. I’ve found it very enriching and it has given me a wider perspective which will contribute to my research output. More events like this are needed to prevent the academic element of wind energy lagging behind the rest of the industry.”

The event, which was organised by the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) in partnership with the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) was full-to-capacity with 120 delegates, 30 speakers and 30 students. Speakers at the event offered an international flavour with participants from the USA, Germany, Denmark and France as well as contributions from South African academics.

“WindAc is an exciting new addition to the growing series of institutions that accompany the success of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer’s Procurement Programme. I trust that this first gathering will help to foster the research and study necessary to maximize South Africans’ input to their growing renewable energy industry,” comments Steve Sawyer, Secretary General, GWEC. 

Sessions covered a diverse range of such subjects including lessons learnt on community consultation and how renewable energy development can implement changes, knowledge sharing around wind resource and characteristics, the design and planning of electric systems with high penetration of wind energy and research activities on the policy and institutional approaches to deployment of wind energy.

Key sponsors of the event included the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) through its Renewable Energy Centre of Research and Development (RECORD) and Germany’s GIZ. The event afforded these stakeholders an opportunity to launch the ‘The State of Wind Energy Research in South Africa’, which included a presentation of the study results and a panel discussion on the gaps in wind energy research and how they can be addressed. 

Dr Deborah Lew from GE Energy Consulting won the award for best presentation for her subject ‘Integrating Wind into Coal-dominated Power Systems’. Before she joined GE she spent 16 years with the National Energy Laboratory (NREL).

WindAc Africa is part of Wind Energy Week which also includes the 6th annual wind industry conference ‘Windaba 2016’ and an Industry Gives Back outreach day with the community of Atlantis.

windac1 30 students from universities across the country with the Director General Dr Phil Mjwara
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