Coal power currently represents approximately 74% of the power generation in South Africa, followed by hydro at 7%, wind at 4%, solar PV at 3%, solar CSP at 1%, and Oil and Nuclear at 7% and 3% respectively, according to an ESI Africa article released recently.

Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe stated at the opening sessions of Enlit Africa that energy security is at the centre of the country’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, with “with a requirement of reliable, affordable and clean energy sources, as well as long-term sustainable jobs.”

He said South Africa “fully appreciates the risk of climate change for current and future generations and the need for a transition to a low carbon economy”. 

It is clear that despite delays and consistent stop-and-starting, and even additional delays caused by COVID-19 that the government has had its focus on the energy crisis in South Africa with ongoing load shedding issues and pressures to meet international decarbonisation standards as it has continued projects in the background. With the close of governments bidding window (BW) 4 which was closed off in 2018 South Africa will be seeing both wind and solar energy projects coming online potentially within this year, which will collectively bring in approximately 1257MW of power between wind and solar.

According to an interview with Enel Green Power South Africa, CEO, William Price, with the government’s current bidding window (BW) 5 announced in May, which is expected to be finalised by the end of next year, the country can expect to see an additional capacity of 2.6 GW – 1.6 GW of wind energy and 1 GW of solar PV – being added by 2023/24. 

In addition, South Africa is currently undergoing its largest solar project to date with the Redstone CSP project which has secured financing from leading international and South African financial institutions including African Development Bank (AfDB), ABSA Bank, Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), CDC Group, Nedbank Limited, Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappij voor Ontwikkelingslanden (FMO), Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft (DEG), Investec Bank and Sanlam Life Insurance, at a total investment of R11.6 billion.

With the current energy crisis, it is becoming clearer that localisation of renewable energy technologies needs to increase, which will not only have an economic effect through the creation of jobs and the potential of exporting these services into the African markets but will also facilitate SA’s energy trajectory in reducing the use of coal and relying on renewable energy sources and in turn reducing carbon emissions in South Africa.