Meeting the need: the supply side of the equation

Wind power

Wind power could form part of South Africa’s energy mix

Today we present the last fact sheet from the Smart Electricity Planning Report. This Fact sheet 6 looks at why South Africa would benefit from a decentralised energy mix .

The Smart Electricity Planning report is a robust civil society response to the
government’s blue print for electricity generation over the next two decades, the
Integrated Resource Plan. It calls for:

  • a smarter approach to investing in electricity generation
  • for energy planners to note changing key energy sector assumptions
  • to reconsider investment plans regularly as new technologies are refined and become more affordable

It’s about energy services, not just electricity supply
The government’s Integrated Resource Plan, the IRP2010, focuses overwhelmingly on investing in a centralised, coal and nuclear powered grid. If
the government invests in energy infrastructure as recommended by the IRP2010, the country’s power generation capacity will almost double by 2030, from the current power generation capacity of about 45 gigawatts (GW) to an overall installed capacity of 89 GW. This includes the considerable investment
going into the two new coal-fired power stations, Medupi and Kusile. However the Smart Electricity Planning report calls for a different approach, one which includes multiple sources of energy. The reality of poor households, for instance, is that they use multiple different fuels to meet their domestic energy needs.

Multiple energy options: creating a robust, decentralised electricity supply system

Meeting a family’s energy needs at this level isn’t only about getting the home connected to the grid. It needs an integrated approach, and finding the most appropriate suite of energy options for that family. This reflects the nuances that ‘smart electricity planning’ allows for, on the supply-side of the energy planning equation. Instead of investing in expensive, carbon-intensive and centralised technology such as Medupi and Kusile ‘mega-projects’, the Smart Electricity Planning report calls for solutions which are born out of a decentralised approach to energy supply which are more favourable to pro-poor energy.

Renewable energy will become ever more affordable and accessible as:
• technologies improve
• economies of scale kick in
• financing mechanisms mature
• public policy begins to take account of the negative impacts of coal and nuclear dependence
This makes investment in renewables, as a part of the suite of energy solutions for all South Africans, the smart way to meet everyone’s energy needs.

See the modelling behind these smart planning ideas
The Smart Electricity Planning report includes a series of electricity futures for the country, providing alternative solutions to those recommended by the IRP2010. These were generated by the Electricity Governance Initiative, a collection of civil society organisations, using robust modelling software provided by the University of Cape Town’s Energy Research Centre.
To view the full supply-side recommendations, find the document at

Pro-poor, smart energy delivery: meeting the energy needs of households is about more than just hooking them up to the grid. It’s about looking at the suite of options which best give a family the energy security  it needs. This kind of integrated thinking is needed across supply-side energy

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