Renewable energy technologies for poverty alleviation

Executive Summary
1. Background

South African energy policy priorities have always been closely linked to the prevailing political
situation. Pre-democratic energy policy and planning were characterized by energy security
priorities, excessive secrecy and racially skewed provision of energy services.
Post-apartheid South Africa witnessed substantial revision and a strong focus on energy for
development. In accordance with the Constitution (Act No. 108 of 1996) an inclusive Energy White
Paper (1998) was developed.
Major objectives of government’s Energy White Paper are (DME, 1998):

  • Increasing access to affordable energy services;
  • Stimulating economic development – encouragement of competition within energy markets;
  • Managing energy-related environmental and health effects;
  • Securing supply through diversity – increased opportunities for energy trade and diversity in both supply sources and primary energy carriers.

Renewable energy becomes one of the areas that the government would want to consider pursuing in
managing energy-related environmental impacts and diversifying energy supplies from a coaldominated
In May 2004, the Department of Minerals and Energy (DME) published the White Paper on
Renewable Energy Policy. This targets the provision of 10 000 GWh (accumulative over a period of
10 years) of electricity from RE resources (mainly biomass, wind, solar and small-scale hydro
projects) by 2013. This is approximately 4 % of the country’s estimated electricity demand or
equivalent to replacing two 660 MW units of Eskom’s combined coal-fired power stations. At
present less than 1% of the 200 000 GWh of electricity generated annually in South Africa originates
from RE sources (DME, 2004).
This study outlines the current use of RE, its potential, and discusses barriers and opportunities in
alleviating poverty. Furthermore, it examines policy options for promoting access to RE as an
affordable, reliable and socially acceptable alternative to grid electricity.

2. Rationale and motivation
South Africa’s fast-dwindling peak electricity generation capacity is expected to run out by 2007 and
given the time needed to build new or refurbish mothballed power stations, the harnessing of
abundant renewable sources has become more urgent.
The government is committed to the diversification of the electricity supply industry, and in doing so
will create an enabling environment to facilitate the introduction of independent power producers to
generate electricity from renewables.
A major challenge facing the government is the provision of energy to remote rural areas where grid
electricity is not likely to reach in the foreseeable future. This, coupled with global concerns around
carbon dioxide emissions, has triggered renewed interest in developing RE technologies.
Achieving the 10 000 GWh for 2013 is based on an evaluation of the macroeconomic impacts on
GDP, improvement in low-income households’ income, capacity for employment creation and the
impact on black economic empowerment (BEE). Pursuing this target (10 000 GWh) more than 35
000 jobs would be created, more than R5 billion would be added to GDP, and R687 million would
be added to the incomes of low-income households.



Executive summary ii
Acronyms and abbreviations xvii

1. Background 1
2. Rationale and motivation 2
3. Initial assessment 4
3.1 Characterisation of population and zones 4
3.2 Needs and energy requirements 4
3.3 Technologies 5
3.4 Renewable energy resources 8
3.4.1 Hydro 9
3.4.2 Solar 10
3.4.3 Wind 12
3.4.4 Biomass 12
3.4.5 Wave energy 14
3.5 Case studies 14
3.5.1 Case study: Biodiesel 14
3.5.2 Case study: Solar water heaters 17
3.5.3 Case study: Fuelwood 18
3.6 Assessment of capacities 20
3.6.1 Capacity assessment: Biodiesel 20
3.6.2 Capacity assessment: Solar water heaters (SWH) 22
3.6.3 Conclusion 24
3.6.4 Capacity assessment: fuelwood 24
3.6.5 Conclusion 26
3.7 Renewable energy niches 26
3.7.1 The concept of niche in the context of this project 26
3.7.2 Niches for biodiesel 26
3.7.3 Niches for solar water heaters 28
3.7.4 Niches for fuelwood 30
3.8 Assessment of other experiences 32
3.8.1 Solar electrification by the concession approach 32
3.8.2 Conclusion 36

3.9 Analysis of barriers and problems 36
3.9.1 General 36
3.9.2 Problems and barriers: biodiesel 37
3.9.3 Problems and barriers: Solar water heaters (SWH) 37
3.9.4 Problems and barriers: fuelwood 38

4. Objectives and policy outlines 39
4.1 Problems, opportunities, objectives and policy outlines 39
4.1.1 Strategic objectives and policy outlines: Biodiesel 39
4.1.2 Conclusion 41

4.1.3 Strategy objectives and policy outlines: Solar Water Heaters 41
4.1.4 Conclusion 43
4.1.5 Strategy objectives for fuelwood 43
4.1.6 Conclusion 45
4.2 Stakeholder reactions 45
4.2.1 Stakeholders’ reaction: Biodiesel 45
4.2.2 Stakeholders’ reaction: SWH 46
4.2.3 Stakeholders’ reaction: Fuelwood 46

5. Key findings and Recommendations 47
5.1 Key findings: 47
5.2 Recommendations 47

References 46
Appendices 48


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