Abstract

Siting a renewable energy facility entails several latent but influential quantitative and qualitative variables. Empirical and analytical models often fail to unravel the dynamics of these variables however; prior knowledge of their existence and dynamics offers knowledge-based decision-making during the plant siting process. This article examines the significance and dynamics of land ownership, avian environment, and renewable energy policies. Asides the literature survey, review of government policy, and regulations, a semi-structured interview-based method was used in this study using a wind power plant in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa as a case study. A qualitative content analysis was used for response analysis. From our findings, dynamics around land ownership could be complex depending on the land category and existing contracts between a landowner and the developer. Also, an in-extensive study of avian habitat in seemingly viable land could lead to forced-downtime of wind turbine generators at periods where production is notably high. Lastly, careful examination of prevailing renewable energy policies and a projection on future policies culminates into the viability of the investment. Trivializing these variables before site development could lead to investment loss through low-productivity or force-majeure in the investment. On the overall, the proposed solutions to these barriers can be useful for wind developers in solving similar problems in other renewable energy resources both in South Africa and other countries.

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