In 2012, South Africa’s wind energy capacity was at 10 MW to be precise, a point that took the country ten years to get to. Barely four years later, SA’s wind energy capacity is right around 2 GW. That’s something like a 1900% increase in four years by Sami Grover of Treehugger’s calculation. And according to consulting firm GlobalData, another 3 GW are due to be added in the next four years.
Grover believes this matters for all of us and here is why:
According to Wikipedia, South Africa meets a full 77% of its energy needs directly from coal, and the South African energy sector emits 250 million tons (MT) of carbon dioxide equivalent annually. So any clean energy gains in such coal-dependent territory will have an outsized impact on greenhouse gas emissions when compared to economies with a cleaner energy grid.
The other reason this is so important is it shows, once again, just how quickly renewable energy can be deployed and scale up once a country’s leaders gets serious about making it work. From the explosive growth of offshore wind in the UK to faltering coal demand and production in China, even though it can take a while for the energy sector to begin changing, once momentum picks up it can take on a life of its own.
Still, South Africa has a long way to go. Even with the new capacity additions, by 2020 wind will only account for a 6.4 MT reduction in emissions according to GlobalData. By 2025, though, that reduction will be 12.7 MT.
Thanks for the info, Treehugger.