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Nelson Mandela University (2020)

Assessing the Social Sustainability of Wind Energy in the Karoo

Hechter, J P

Titre : Assessing the Social Sustainability of Wind Energy in the Karoo

Auteur : Hechter, J P

Université de soutenance : Nelson Mandela University

Grade : Master of Science (MS) 2020

In an ecologically conscious world, the need for sustainable development and the need to produce alternative energy is at the forefront of discussions. South Africa has been witnessing to a surge in wind energy developments in recent years. Although, environmental impacts often enjoy more emphasis, social impacts are equally important. Recently social sustainability was seen as an integral part of sustainable development for the future and can no longer be ignored. Wind energy is pathway towards sustainable development but can have detrimental impacts on social sustainability. On the one hand wind energy is said to impact culture, sense of places and cause unrest in a community, however, on the other hand it is said to be socially sustainable to the point where wind energy is incorporated into local culture and not to mention the employment opportunities it can create. This is particularly important for vulnerable communities found in the Karoo, where unemployment is very high. Purpose/ Aim : The aim of this study was to assess the social sustainability of a wind energy project in the Karoo by constructing a theoretical assessment model designed to produce appropriate and specific social indicators. Methodology : A literature review was undertaken to gain insights into the social sustainability of wind energy which also served as the theoretical backbone for the model and assessment parameters. The assessment model produced 10 indicators which was used as interview schedule with key stakeholders in the study area. A total of 31 qualitative interviews were conducted and produced a good data set. Findings : The results from this study show that here was no significant negative impact reported with regards to social sustainability. The wind developer is committed to the community based on the various social initiative funded by it. Although a definite positive impact and improvement in terms of social sustainability is evident in the area, there is still a long way to go as many outcomes set by the wind developer is yet to achieved.

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