The Republic of South Africa (RSA) is the main producer and by far the most significant consumer of electricity in the African continent using some 40% of the total electricity production. 79% of South African energy is produced from coal, and due to the abundant coal resources and low tariffs there is lot to be improved in the efficiency.
The RSA has developed its energy policy “White Paper on Energy Policy” in 1998. The policy has been completed with the White Paper on Renewable Energy in 2003 and with the Energy Efficiency Strategy in 2005.
The country has a target to increase renewable energy production up to 10 000 GWh by 2013. Renewable energy sources prioritized in the policy are biomass, wind, solar and small scale hydro power. The main reason constraining investments in renewable energy has been the low tariffs which are currently applicable for Eskom power. Currently several on-going initiatives aim to make renewable energy production more viable. Limited technical and financial support is available for project developers. Renewable energy is to be utilised for power generation and non-electricity energy services such as solar water heating and biofuels for transport. The planned new RE production capacity in the White Paper on RE is approximately 4% (1 667 MW) of the projected installed capacity for 2013 (41 539 MW). This is in addition to the estimated existing (in 2000) renewable energy contribution of 115 278 GWh/annum (mainly from fuel wood and waste).
In a recent development, NERSA, the South African Regulator has published guidelines for feed-in tariffs that require Eskom to purchase electricity from renewable IPP’s at more cost-reflective tariffs. The four identified renewable energy technologies, and the corresponding tariffs, were: wind (ZAR1.25/kWh); small hydro (94 cents/kWh); landfill gas (90 cents/kWh); and concentrated solar (R2.10/kWh).
Similarly, energy efficiency is well considered in the policies. The target is to reduce energy demand 12% by year 2015, highlighting especially mining sector and industries but also targeting public buildings, residential sector and transportation.