South Africa’s Progress in Renewable Energy

South Africa, the most industrialized country in Africa, is highly dependent on conventional fuels which make it one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world. Coal provides around 75% of the fossil fuel demand and accounts for 90% of power generation in the country. A smooth transition to a low-carbon society requires diversification of energy resources to other energy forms, especially renewable energy. The country is endowed with abundant sunshine, good wind regimes and attractive biomass feedstocks which could provide sufficient means to replenish energy supplies and counter environmental degradation.

According to the Government’s White Paper on Renewable Energy Policy (2003), renewable energy projects are aimed to deliver the equivalent of 10,000 GWh by 2013, from wind, solar, biomass and hydro resources. Some of the larger projects that are under development include the Darling wind farm and the Bethlehem hydro scheme. Other projects such as landfill to gas and existing hydro-electric power stations are already making a contribution. South Africa, like other developing countries, faces the dual challenge of pursuing economic growth and environmental protection, and sustainable energy systems offer the possibility of resolving this problem.

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