Energy in South Africa

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Total Primary Energy Supply in South Africa, 2012

Energy in South Africa describes energy and electricity production, consumption and export in South Africa. South Africa was 6. top hard coal producer in 2009. Hard coal production was 1,620 TWh in 2009 and total energy production 1,995 TWh in 2008.[1]


Energy in South Africa[2]
Capita Prim. energy Production Export Electricity CO2-emission
Million TWh TWh TWh TWh Mt
2004 45.5 1,525 1,814 279 226 343
2007 47.6 1,562 1,856 254 239 346
2008 48.7 1,564 1,895 203 232 337
2009 49.3 1,675 1,868 158 224 369
2010 50.0 1,592 1,889 199 240 347
2012 50.6 237 368
Change 2004-10 9.8% 4.4% 4.1% -29% 6.0% 1.0%
Mtoe = 11.63 TWh, Prim. energy includes energy losses

Production and supply[edit]

The government owned national power utility Eskom dominates the country's electricity sector. With 27 operational power plants generating over 95% of the country's electricity and over 40% of all electricity on the African continent making it one of the ten largest power utilities in the world. However government's inability to keep Eskom's generating capacity up with economic and population growth due to a lack of investment by government has created a large energy shortage and led to an energy crisis in late 2007. This has forced the company to implement loadshedding in specific areas of the country at certain times to reduce pressure on the national grid and initiate an ambitious program to increase energy production.[3][4] This has led to speculation by the national newspaper, the Mail and Guardian, that the country might face a complete grid failure.[5]


Main article: Coal in South Africa

Around 77% of South Africa's energy needs are directly derived from coal[6] and 92% of coal consumed on the African continent is mined in South Africa.[7]

South Africa was the sixth top hard coal producer in 2009: 247 Mt hard coal, below Australia 335 Mt and Indonesia 263 Mt and above Russia 229 Mt. South Africa was the fifth top hard coal net exporter in 2009: 67 Mt hard coal of the world total hard coal export 836 Mt.[8]

In 2009 247 Mt hard coal production is 247 Mt*0.564 toe/Mt*11.630 TWh/toe = 1620 TWh and export 67 Mt*0.564 toe/Mt*11.630 TWh/toe = 439 TWh.

Coal and environment[edit]

Coal production and use creates in South Africa Coal combustion wastes (CCW), coal mine wastes (AMD) and toxic coal land fires. Coal combustion wastes (CCW), contain toxic substances like arsenic, cadmium, chromium and lead. Hundreds of South African old coal mines are filled with sulphate salts, heavy metals and carcinogenic substances like benzene and toluene. This AMD damages wildlife and spreads illness and disease. According to Greenpeace most shockingly is eMalahleni 'place of coal', Mpumalanga province, surrounded by 22 collieries and steel, vanadium and manganese plants. One of the biggest old mines is the Transvaal and Delagoa Bay (T&DB) mine, closed in 1953. 60 km downstream from Emalahleni AMD leaked into the water supply in 2006 and 2007 killing thousands of fish, crocodiles and freshwater turtles and poisoning the water used by communities. Coal fires continue in the disused mines.[1]

Coal business[edit]

Coal mine owners include Anglo Coal (ex Amcoal) a subsidiary of Anglo American plc and BHP Billiton.[1]


In 2008 electricity was produced 241 TWh with coal. In 2008 electricity production + imports – exports – losses was 232 TWh.[9]

Renewable energy[edit]

The portion of renewable energy as a percentage of Final Energy Consumption (2012) = 16.9%. In 2012 most of that was from the burning of traditional biofuels for heating.


In terms of share of GDP in 2012, South Africa was the 4th largest investor in renewable power in the world after Uruguay, Mauritius and Costa Rica. That rate of investment is expected to continue. Renewable energy will play a larger role in future.[11]

South Africa's per capita greenhouse gas emissions are the highest in Africa. South Africa's commitment to renewable energy lags behind that of China, India, Brazil, and Russia. South Africa receives more than twice as much sunshine than Germany, where over 15 percent of the national electricity supply comes from renewable sources.[12][13][14][15][16][17]

"South Africa's National Energy Regulator (NERSA) announced 31 March 2009 the introduction of a system of feed-in tariffs designed to produce 10 TWh of electricity per year by 2013. The feed-in tariffs announced were substantially higher than those in NERSA's original proposal. The tariffs, differentiated by technology, will be paid for a period of 20 years.

NERSA said in its release that the tariffs were based, as in most European countries, on the cost of generation plus a reasonable profit. The tariffs for wind energy and concentrating solar power are among the most attractive worldwide.

The tariff for wind energy, 1.25 ZAR/kWh (€0.104/kWh) is greater than that offered in Germany and more than that proposed in Ontario, Canada.

The tariff for concentrating solar, 2.10 ZAR/kWh, is less than that in Spain, but offers great promise in the bright sunlight of South Africa. NERSA's revised program followed extensive public consultation.

Stefan Gsänger, Secretary General of the World Wind Energy Association said in a release that "South Africa is the first African country to introduce a feed-in tariff for wind energy. Many small and big investors will now be able to contribute to the take-off of the wind industry in the country. Such decentralised investment will enable South Africa to overcome its current energy crisis. It will also help many South African communities to invest in wind farms and generate electricity, new jobs and new income. We are especially pleased as this decision comes shortly after the first North American feed-in law has been proposed by the Government of the Canadian Province of Ontario".[18]

However, the feed-in tariff was abandoned before being promulgated in favor of a competitive bidding process launched on 3 August 2011. Under this bidding process, the South African government plans to procure 3,750MW of renewable energy: 1,850MW of onshore wind, 1,450MW of solar PV, 200MW of CSP, 75MW of small hydro, 25MW of landfill gas, 12.5MW of biogas, 12.5MW of biomass, and 100MW of small projects. The bidding process comprises two steps:

  • Qualification phase. Projects are assessed based on structure of the project, legal, land acquisition and use, financial, environmental consent, technical, economic development and bid guarantee
  • Evaluation phase. Compliant bids are then evaluated based on: (1) price relative to a ceiling provided in bid documentation, accounting for 70% of the decision, and (2) economic development, accounting for 30% of the decision.

The first round of bids was due on 4 November 2011. The SA government is expected to announce preferred bidders before COP17 in December. PPA's are expected to be in place by June 2012. Projects should be commissioned by June 2014, except CSP projects which are expected by June 2015.

The average indexed bid prices (2012) for the supply of energy in the first bid window for the various renewable energy technologies were:

  • Concentrating solar power (CSP): R2,69 per kWh
  • Solar photo-voltaic (PV): R2,76 per kWh
  • Wind: R1,14 per kWh

The average indexed bid prices (2012) for the supply of energy in the second bid window

  • Concentrating solar power (CSP): R2,51 per kWh
  • Solar photo-voltaic (PV): R1,65 per kWh
  • Wind: R0,90 per kWh
  • Small hydro: R1,03 per kWh

The average indexed bid prices (2013) for the supply of energy in the third bid window

  • Concentrating solar power (CSP): R1,64 per kWh
  • Solar photo-voltaic (PV): R0,99 per kWh
  • Wind: R0,74 per kWh
  • Landfill gas: R0,94 per kWh
  • Biomass: R1,39 per kWh

Eskom claims a standard electricity production price (2012)of R0.31 per kWh (Eskom-predominately Coal and Nuclear),[19] however energy generated from Eskom's new coal power plants have been estimated to be R0.97 per kWh.


Secret price contracts between Eskom and the Australian mining company BHP Billiton less than half Eskom's reported production price in the period.[20]

Many abandoned mines have been burning since the 1940s. Persistent and toxic mine chemical leakages pollute waterways and kill animals. In 2006, about 80% of South Africa's coal exports was in Europe.[1]

Climate change[edit]

The state-owned utility Eskom contributed a 45% of South Africa's annual greenhouse gas emissions in 2010.[20]

Eskom participated but NGO and labour parties were excluded from the government energy and climate change strategy planning in 2010.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d The True Cost of Coal Greenpeace 27 November 2008 pages 48–53
  2. ^ IEA Key World Energy Statistics Statistics 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2006 IEA October, crude oil p.11, coal p. 13 gas p. 15
  3. ^ Jasson Urbach (9 August 2012). "The electricity crisis – from bad to terrible". Moneyweb. Retrieved 10 August 2015. 
  4. ^ Sipho Hlongwane (12 January 2012). "Hey Eskom, remember 2008?". Daily Maverick. Retrieved 10 August 2015. 
  5. ^ KATE WILKINSON (11 December 2014). "Does South Africa face an electricity grid collapse?". Mail & Guardian. Retrieved 10 August 2015. 
  6. ^ "Coal". Department of Energy (South Africa). Retrieved 8 January 2010. 
  7. ^ "International Energy Outlook 2009, Chapter 4 – Coal". Energy Information Administration. 27 May 2009. Retrieved 14 January 2010. 
  8. ^ IEA Key energy statistics 2010 Page 15
  9. ^ IEA Key energy statistics 2010 Pages 25,56
  10. ^ "Global Tracking Framework 2015". The World Bank. Retrieved 14 October 2015. 
  11. ^ "RENEWABLES 2014 GLOBAL STATUS REPORT". REN21. Retrieved 30 March 2015. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ "South Africa's energy supply". Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  14. ^ "CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion: 2011Highlights". IEA. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ "| Agentur für Erneuerbare Energien". Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  17. ^ "World's Largest Solar Park to be in South Africa?". CleanTechnica. 26 October 2010. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  18. ^ [1] "South Africa Introduces Aggressive Feed-in Tariffs" , Paul Gipe, Contributing Writer, 10 April 2009
  19. ^ "Renewable Energy IPP Procurement Programme: Window two Preferred Bidders’ announcement". Department of Minerals and Energy. Retrieved 13 July 2013. 
  20. ^ a b c Who's holding us back? Full report. Greenpeace, 23 November 2011

External links[edit]