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Presentation: Power fuels and its potential for South Africa

ENERTRAG South Africa CEO Dr Tobias Bischof-Niemz delivered a presentation on power fuels and their potential in the South African context at a pre-event to the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue 2019 in Berlin, Germany, on 8 April 2018. Click the Download Button Below to View the Presentation.

Presentation: South Africa’s IRP and Eskom restructuring

Dr Tobias Bischof-Niemz delivered a presentation on South Africa’s IRP and Eskom’s restructuring at the RMB’s SA Investment Forum in London, England, on March 6, 2019. Click Link Below to View the Presentation

Transition Talk

For thought leadership on South Africa’s Energy Transition, read Dr Tobias Bischof-Niemz’s Transition Talk column, published in Creamer Media’s Engineering News. Latest columns are listed below:

How can embedded generators help close South Africa’s power supply gap?

There has been no increase in overall electricity demand since South Africans first began experiencing load-shedding back in 2008. Yet the threat of rotational cuts remains, because of the precipitous decline in the energy availability factor of State-owned power utility Eskom’s coal fleet and the underinvestment in new generation capacity. New generation capacity is required urgently to restore the balance between supply and demand.

Under a steady-state scenario, such new supply would be added in line with Ministerial determinations for the procurement of various generation technologies as directed by an up-to-date Integrated Resources Plan (IRP). South Africa’s electricity supply industry is currently not in a steady state, however. In addition, the immediate supply deficit cannot easily be met through government’s centralised procurement system, as its rigorous processes take several months to complete, during which no construction is possible. Click Here for Full Article

If renewables are so cheap, why are we paying so much for them?

Hardly a week passes without a statement being made about the high costs of renewable energy in South Africa. Typically, the argument is made on social media and is framed to suggest that Eskom is buying electricity at R2.22/kWh from renewable-energy independent power producers (REIPPs) and that this is proof that renewables are much more expensive than other forms of electricity generation.

The proposition is at odds with the alternative narrative of onshore wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) being the cheapest form of new generation. It also conflicts with various analytical reports indicating that a new-build combination of wind, solar and flexible generators represents the least-cost electricity expansion scenario for South Africa.Advertisement

That such starkly divergent positions are able to coexist is obviously perplexing and is also resulting in a good deal of confusion about what direction South Africa should take with regard to its future electricity investments. Click Here to Read Full Article

If investment is the goal, what should SA’s electricity game plan be?

South Africa has correctly identified the lack of investment as a serious constraint to economic growth and job creation. President Cyril Ramaphosa has moved to address the problem by reaching out to domestic and foreign investors both informally and through the inaugural Investment Conference, which took place in Johannesburg in October 2018.

Without question, affordable and reliable electricity is a prerequisite for many investors, particularly in areas such as mining and mineral processing, where South Africa has a relative advantage, owing to its natural resources, as well as its well-developed capabilities in extracting, processing and exporting the mineral products. Likewise, the country’s reindustrialisation aspirations, as well as its plans to expand the agricultural and agroprocessing sectors, could well turn not only on security of electricity supply, but also on the pricing of that energy. Click Here to Read full Article

If there are more jobs in renewables, why are coal miners so unhappy?

As outlined previously, an electricity system made up of solar photovoltaic (PV) plants, wind farms and flexible generators will employ at least 30% more people than a comparable energy-equivalent coal fleet (see the Transition Talk column in the February 22-28 edition of Engineering News). This net jobs advantage is, however, disguised by the geographically disbursed nature of renewable-energy investments. Click to Read Full Article

More Transition Talk Columns

Are there really more jobs in coal than in renewables?

There is considerable support in South Africa for the notion that a transition in the electricity system from coal to renewable energy will trigger a jobs bloodbath at both Eskom and the Mpumalanga coal mines. The opposition to renewables is underpinned partly by the notion that there are more jobs in coal than in renewables. A detailed analysis of the job numbers, however, suggests quite the opposite. It points to there being at least 30% more jobs in a fleet comprising solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind farms when compared with an energy-equivalent coal fleet. Click to Read Article

Will unbundling Eskom ensure a sustainable electricity system?

That Eskom needs to be restructured is no longer in question. In its current form, the organisation poses a systemic risk to the South African economy and is ‘too big to fail’. The real question is what form this restructuring should take. For sure, the generation assets need to be separated from the transmission system operator (TSO) and from the distribution unit. But is that enough? Can the generation assets be kept in one legal entity? There is the risk, for instance, that the animal instincts of the separate board and executive team presiding over a 40 GW-plus behemoth could prove impossible to tame. In the absence of the moderating influence of Eskom’s prevailing unified leadership structure, the generation tail could truly end up wagging the power-system dog and undermining both the TSO and the regulator. Click to Read Article

Looking for more?

Why Not Read The Book? Published as a Routledge Focus in 2018, South Africa’s Energy Transition explores the technical, economic and industrial opportunities associated with country’s transition to an electricity system in which coal is progressively replaced by solar and wind. It’s a Roadmap to a Decarbonised, Low-Cost and Job-Rich Future!

Buy the Book

South Africa’s energy transition has become a highly topical, emotive and politically contentious topic. Taking a systems perspective, this book offers an evidence-based roadmap for such a transition and debunks many of the myths raised about the risks of a renewable-energy-led electricity mix. This book will be of great interest to energy industry practitioners, as well as students and scholars of energy policy and politics, environmental economics and sustainable development.

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To request a copy for review, please complete the online form:

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