In recent years, the South African electricity sector, once operationally efficient, ran into major capacity constraints. As a result, power rationing and other measures instituted to prevent the electricity system from collapsing affected the entire economy, especially the country's mining industry, leading to shutdowns of some of the largest mining operations, putting thousands of jobs at risk. In addition, climate change is affecting South African life, especially the poor population, and the country is a major emitter of greenhouse gases, generating its electricity largely from coal. As the world’s eighth largest emitter per capita of greenhouse gases (GHGs), the emission rate is at almost ten tonnes of carbon dioxide per person per year – 43% more than the global average.
In response, South Africa has made a bold voluntary commitment to combat climate change. It aims at reducing GHG emissions by 34% by 2020 and 42% by 2025. To support these goals, Eskom, South Africa’s public electricity utility, committed USD 50 billion in investments over a five-year period to increase the then-current electricity capacity by 12.5 percent while aligning with the country’s commitment to transition into a low carbon economy. Given the climatic conditions in the country, potential wind power was estimated at 80 terawatt-hours (TWh) and was therefore considered a viable solution for renewable power generation.