South Africa's renewable energy targets may not be met

According to research agency Rystad An analysis released by Energy recently predicts that by the end of 2030, South Africa’s share of renewable energy generation in its power mix can only reach 20%. This forecast highlights the challenges South Africa faces in its pursuit of decarbonisation. South Africa has set a target of increasing the share of renewables in its generation mix from the current 2030% to 11% by 41, mainly by accelerating the installation of onshore wind facilities and photovoltaic plants. However, with rising demand for electricity and new coal-fired power plants, it seems increasingly unlikely that South Africa will meet these ambitious targets.

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South Africa’s electricity generation is expected to grow by more than 2030% by 40, from the current around 210 TWh to 300 TWh. Despite significant investments in increasing installed renewable energy capacity, current onshore wind projects may not support the country’s renewable energy generation targets. Coal-fired power plants currently dominate South Africa’s electricity mix, accounting for more than 80% of electricity generation. In addition to generating pollution, reliance on older coal-fired power plants has led to frequent breakdowns and maintenance problems, leading to widespread blackouts across South Africa.

While natural gas power generation facilities and battery energy storage systems are potential solutions, they also face some challenges. Natural gas power generation can provide flexibility and relatively low costs, ensuring power supply during periods of insufficient renewable energy generation. Large battery energy storage systems can store excess energy for use at peak power demand. As South Africa seeks to increase the share of renewable energy in its generation mix, these technologies will play a vital role in ensuring a reliable and stable supply of electricity.

Despite progress in renewable energy development through the Renewable Independent Power Producer Scheme (REIPPP), South Africa is currently reviewing applications for PV and onshore wind projects, including battery energy storage systems. However, it is estimated that by 2030, the share of renewable energy generation will only account for about 20% of the country’s electricity mix, far from meeting the targets set by the South African government. In contrast, the installed capacity of coal-fired power plants is expected to increase as new units are added.

To facilitate the integration of renewable energy, South Africa is working to improve its transmission infrastructure and facilitate the development of power generation projects, shorten the timeline for environmental authorization, and the grid-connected permit will be completed within 6 months. In addition, plans are underway to develop natural gas resources and build natural gas power plants to meet the country’s electricity needs.

In conclusion, South Africa faces significant challenges in meeting its renewable energy targets and decarbonization targets. While the future of renewable energy is promising, the integration of flexible natural gas power plants and battery energy storage systems is becoming a viable pathway. Proactive measures to strengthen transmission infrastructure and simplify project mandates are essential to diversify the power generation mix and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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