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Latin America and Caribbean
South and East Asia
North America
Climate Change and Renewable Energy

Investigating South Africa Renewable Energy Production Plans

Energy is central to sustainable development and poverty reduction efforts: its availability influences the lives of poor people and their ability to escape poverty. As a developing economy, South Africa faces the dual challenge of pursuing economic growth and environmental protection. The economy is mainly structured around large-scale, energy-intensive mining and associated beneficiation industries, pushing its energy intensity levels to above world average levels; even when compared to developed countries. From an economic perspective the energy sector is critical as it contributes about 15% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Large deposits of coal in South Africa, with government policies, have allowed for low cost electricity supply in recent years. While the cost of electricity in South Africa is still among the lowest, strong economic development, rapid industrialization, and a mass electrification program have led to demand for power outstripping supply in early 2008. The recent power supply crisis has accelerated the recognition for the need to diversify the energy mix, and move towards alternative energy sources such as nuclear power, natural gas, and various forms of renewable energy, as well as exploring a range of energy demand options.

Given such challenges, the establishment of alternative energy systems present serious challenges. This is mostly due to the intricacy of social, economic and environmental factors coupled with the implementation of alternative energy policies and programs. As a consequence, the complexity in policy planning raises the need for decision support tools that are based on detailed modeling of the different interrelationships existing between the economic sectors, energy supply and demand sub-sectors, and the natural resource base and society at large.

MI is working with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to provide a framework for such analysis. Further research is being devoted to studying the potential for biofuels production in the Eastern Cape region.

For questions about this project, contact Andrea Bassi at .

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