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Wind power is key to KwaZulu-Natal's green economy


By: Brindaveni Naidoo
17th October 2011

KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), the province where the seventeenth Conference of the Parties (COP 17) climate conference will get under way late next month, has identified wind energy as one of the key opportunities to grow its green economy, MEC for cooperative governance and traditional affairs Nomsa Dube said on Monday.

Environmental impact assessments were under way for wind projects, including an assessment for a 130 MW project in northern KZN valued at R1.7-billion.

"This is probably the most advanced wind initiative in the province for which foreign and local funding has been secured," Dube said at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) conference on the green economy and climate change, in Johannesburg.

The other projects revolve around two vertical axis wind turbine developers from Durban, one designed for rural homesteads and the other for a 10 kW-capacity wind project modified for domestic use.

"These projects have proved immensely popular and have already attracted interest from abroad. All projects have been developed in close partnership with the local municipalities, communities, land owners and Trade and Investment KZN," Dube said.

Further, a biogas project, in which construction would start in December 2012, would employ about five people for each megawatt produced. The project will produce biogas through biological fermentation in large anaerobic digester tanks, which will in turn feed into the national grid.

Durban's waste stream also had the potential to create more than 10 000 jobs.

"Waste beneficiation provided potential employment opportunities through its expansion of USE-IT, which has already created more than 300 jobs in the recycling centre," Dube said.

USE-IT is a not-for-profit company established in collaboration with the eThekwini municipality and mandated to investigate, facilitate and implement waste beneficiation projects in partnership with the private sector.

Dube warned against the risks of misusing the concept of the green economy as either purely environmental or as a "one-size-fits-all" approach, in which all countries are treated in the same manner.

"We should guard against the concept of the green economy being used to impose new conditionality on developing countries for aids, loans or debt relief," she said.

She added that there were also risks related to the trade regime of using the environment for trade protections, of gaining market access through the guise of the environment, as well as developing countries facing production that is subsidised in the industrial world without being able to impose corrective measures.

The transition to the green economy, Dube believed, involved a "technology revolution" and will impact on production structures and consumption patterns.

The province has also developed a green unit dedicated to advancing energy projects and the green economy, and the unit would take that mandate to municipal level.

Meanwhile, UNDP resident representative in South Africa Dr Agostinho Zacarias said business in South Africa has a major role to play in international efforts to manage climate change.

"In a continually strained global economy, the private sector in Africa may find itself called upon to contribute financing for adaptation to climate change," he said.

While National Business Initiative director for climate change and energy Valerie Green made a strong call for adaptation, she said it was not considered a "priority" by many.

"The costs of adaptation, especially with regard to infrastructure are very high and can ill be afforded by most emerging economies amidst competing priorities," she explained.

Green added that business needed to get more involved in understanding what the climate change negotiations were about.

Edited by: Mariaan Webb

Source: Engineering News (

Wind power is key to KwaZulu-Natal's green economy

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