February 2023.

In mid-January a group of 13 international students studying Aerospace, Electrical, and Computer Engineering at the Grainger College of Engineering, part of the University of Illinois, United States of America, visited Klipheuwel Wind Farm in Caledon.

The tour was organised as an opportunity for these keen minds to observe the practical employment of their studies in a different country, deepening their understanding of the real-world impact of their chosen career paths.

Third year Aerospace Engineer student, Anna Marie Bruss (21), explained the relationship between studying aerospace engineering and the wind farm, as it presents a unique application of fluid dynamics. “This was a great opportunity to get up close to a large, complicated structure and see the machinery up close and specifically to see the cooling area, which was awesome because it applied concepts from several of my classes. I was able to see a real world application of what I’m learning at school in the USA,” she said.

Similarly, fellow student Zachary Werth (20), found the experience hugely beneficial, saying, “I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the intricacies of how wind turbines function and the many difficulties that maintenance presents. It was interesting understanding the connection between wind turbines and aerospace engineering, especially through the airflow passing over the blades. Finally, being able to step inside an actual wind turbine was an awesome experience that I might not have the opportunity to do again.”

The students learned about South Africa’s drive towards clean renewable and sustainable energy, and were able to experience a large utility-scale operational wind farm, learning about how the shift towards green energy can have a positive socio-economic impact on the communities surrounding the project.

Carlton Johannes, Kliphuewel Wind Farm’s Site Manager, was generally impressed by the level of the students engagements and the passion expressed for the technology behind wind power. “The students were really keen to understand operational details such as the yaw and pitch system, amongst other pivotal details – I mostly loved the fact that they had so many interesting questions throughout their visit,” he concluded.

Klipheuwel Wind Farm, covering over 350 hectares, in the Western Cape, is one of 37 wind farms in South Africa, helping to meet the growing demaind for clean energy. These wind farms collectively have far reaching benefits for the country’s power sector, economy and people.