- Greater Use of Alternative Energy
- Greater Use of Technological Innovation to Support the Use of Alternative Energy
- Better Communication and Participation in Energy Conservation Efforts
- Policy and Legislative Changes to Allow More Independent Power Producers
Greater Use of Alternative Energy
Amongst the G20 countries, South Africa depends the most on coal for its electricity. In 2020, 86% of the electricity generated in the country came from coal . South Africa is currently experiencing various challenges in meeting its electricity demand. Ageing coal power stations, lack of maintenance, improper planning and mismanagement have resulted in a shortage of electricity in South Africa. The country regularly experiences load shedding. Consequently, it is important that South Africa makes greater use of alternative and clean energy in order to reduce its dependence on coal and to meet its electricity demand.
South Africa has a huge potential for solar and wind power. The average daily solar radiation level ranges between 4.5 to 6.5 kWh/m2, which is amongst the highest in the world  while the wind power potential is around 6700 GW . Eskom, the state-owned electric utility in South Africa, will need to play a major role in switching to increased use of alternative energy sources. The percentage of electricity generated from renewable energy sources could be used as an indicator to measure progress. This percentage can be calculated by dividing the amount of electricity generated from renewable energy by the total amount of electricity generated from all energy sources in South Africa. The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy could monitor the progress.
Greater Use of Technological Innovation
One of the drawbacks of using renewable energy lies in its intermittency and thus, there is a need for increased use of technological innovation such as battery energy storage, thermal energy storage, mechanical storage and hydrogen storage. Such storage systems are essential so as to ensure that electricity can be supplied continuously from clean energy, thus reducing the need for back-up power plants. Improved technology also can make the electricity grid more responsive as they can respond quickly to huge fluctuations in electricity demand . The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy could assist in funding research and feasibility studies in this area and subsequently implementing these projects in South Africa.
One indicator which can be used to monitor progress is the total energy storage capacity in the country which can be obtained directly from the plants as they come online. It has been claimed that a total of 266 GW of energy storage is needed by 2030 to keep global warming below 2OC . The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy could be involved in monitoring this indicator.
Better Communication and Participation
Globally, human beings and communities are increasingly becoming prosumers – they are buying electricity generated from renewable energy sources and they are investing in energy efficient appliances and rooftop solar panels . In South Africa, the government could implement better communication strategies on how individuals and communities could work together in order to reduce emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change. Regular awareness campaigns could be conducted by the government, research institutions and organisations involved in renewable energy production so that individuals and communities become increasingly conscious of their decisions. The government could also provide incentives for people buying energy efficient appliances or for installing solar panels at their houses or within their community.
Under this strategy, everyone needs to participate as it is everyone’s responsibility to try and assist in reducing emissions by 50% by 2030. Progress could be tracked by monitoring household and community electricity consumption from renewable energy sources to establish whether people’s behaviours are changing and if they are actually transitioning to clean energy and energy efficient appliances.
Policy and Legislative Changes
In South Africa, Eskom is the sole electricity provider. Policy and legislative changes are needed to allow more independent power producers to generate more renewable energy that could be fed into the grid. Policy changes should also allow these private producers to have longer term power purchase agreements and protect them from political instability. Progress could be monitored by establishing the increase in renewable energy opportunities.
The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy could play an important advocacy role in getting the above strategies adopted.
Mr. Gwede Mantashe, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy
Email: Vuyelwa.Siyeka@dmre.gov.za 
This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard South Africa Country Manager Deepti Charitar
Learn More References:
- South Africa tops the G20 for reliance on coal power. https://ember-climate.org/global-electricity-review-2021/g20-profiles/south-africa/ [Accessed November 2011].
- Renewable Energy. http://www.energy.gov.za/files/esources/renewables/r_solar.html [Accessed November 2011].
- Kilian, A. 2016. Wind power potential in South Africa on par with solar – CSIR. https://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/wind-power-potential-in-south-africa-on-par-with-solar-csir-2016-05-26/rep_id:4136 [Accessed November 2011].
- Environmental and Energy Study Institute. Fact Sheet | Energy Storage (2019). https://www.eesi.org/papers/view/energy-storage-2019 [Accessed November 2011].
- IRENA, OECD/IEA & REN21. Renewable Energy Policies in a Time of Transition. 2018. https://www.irena.org/-/media/Files/IRENA/Agency/Publication/2018/Apr/IRENA_IEA_REN21_Policies_2018.pdf [Accessed November 2011].
- Department of Mineral Resources and Energy. Contact us. http://www.energy.gov.za/files/contact/contact_minister.html [Accessed November 2011].