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Mainstream Invests in Wind Power

2010-01-26 11:44:00

Irish renewable energy company Mainstream is planning to invest R9.1 billion in wind farms in South Africa. According to the chief executive, Eddie O'Connor, wind power is the most viable energy generating option for South Africa at this time.

O'Connor has questioned Eskom's assertion that renewable energy investment is too expensive for South Africa, arguing that Eskom has not properly considered the input costs of coal.

Eskom has begun it's application to the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) for three consecutive annual increases of 35% in electricity tariffs, in order to fund it's R385 billion expansion programme consisting mostly of investments in coal-burning power stations and pumped storage schemes.

Proponents of renewable energy schemes have argued that, although the capital cost of renewable energy plants is slightly higher, the fuel is free (wave, wind or solar), so operational and maintenance costs are significantly lower, while coal-fired plants require large amounts of coal and water to operate and must also pay carbon taxes.

There is substantial risk associated with the long term price of coal which may rise dramatically in the future (especially if mines will pay more for their power), while renewables will remain free for the forseeable future.

Last year Mainstream announced that it plans to build at least 18 wind farms in various parts of South Africa.

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