South Africa is the 11th largest emitter of carbon emissions in the world and one of the main users of the electricity on the African continent. The energy sector stands as the biggest emitter of carbon in South Africa. This is mainly due to the country’s heavy reliance on coal for electricity generation.
South Africa has committed to reduce carbon emissions 42% below business-as-usual in 2025. Reaching this goal will require a significant transformation of the energy sector in South Africa with increased focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy. The Danish Energy Agency (DEA) is contributing to this process through the Danish South-African Renewable Energy Programme.
Since 2013, Denmark has actively assisted South Africa decoupling its economic growth from increased greenhouse gas emissions by deploying more effective policies and low carbon technologies. The Danish Energy Agency has a lot of knowledge and competencies from Denmark’s own transition to a low carbon economy. These experiences are proving useful as South Africa builds up the capacity to undertake its own energy transformation away from coal.
Three focus areas
The Danish-South African Energy Programme is primarily focusing on three areas: Increasing energy efficiency, strengthening the conditions for renewable energy and mitigating carbon emissions.
The programme seek to increase energy efficiency by assessing, developing, and implementing suitable energy efficiency instruments and policy solutions to speed up investments in reducing the energy consumed in South Africa. Energy efficiency remains to be the most cost-effective way of reducing carbon emissions, simply by using less energy. The aim is among others for Department of Energy to develop an ambitious post-2015 national energy efficiency strategy, develop an energy label on appliances and to create a public information campaign to make people more aware of the cost-related benefits of energy efficiency in buildings.
A large part of the programme funds is allocated to the development of a South African Wind Atlas. The wind atlas geographically asses where the potential for deploying wind turbines is most suitable and is publicly available for companies, policy developers and the general public.
The programme is also focusing on several other areas within renewable energy among others with assistance of three Danish energy advisors located in South Africa. The three energy advisors are working on establishing a renewable energy database, further development of the South African grid codes and on capacity building on network operations and control of distribution systems. Furthermore, the programme is focusing on system adequacy to document the South African potential for renewable energy. Based on Danish experiences, these activities will provide the South African government with useful policy solutions on planning, assessing, and operating an energy system with large proportions of renewable energy.
The programme is also assisting the South African Department of Energy in mitigating carbon emissions through the development and implementation of a carbon tax offset scheme. The carbon tax will seek to price carbon by obliging the polluter to internalize the external costs of emitting carbon, and in this way motivating business’ to reduce their carbon emissions in a cost-efficient way. South Africa is aiming to launch the carbon tax in 2017.
Funding from the Danish Climate Envelope
Through the Danish Climate Envelope programme the Danish Energy Agency (DEA) cooperates bilaterally with four emerging economies that experience increasing carbon emissions and have large mitigation potentials, namely China, Mexico, South Africa and Vietnam. The four programmes focus on decoupling the countries’ carbon emissions from their economic growth by reforming their energy sectors towards more renewable energy and increased energy efficiency. The four programmes were launched during the course of 2013 and 2014 as part of the framework under the 2013 Climate Envelop. The programmes are scheduled to be concluded in June 2017.
With the Copenhagen Accord adopted at COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009, developed countries committed to provide 30 billion USD for the period 2010-2012 for developing countries. The financing should work as start-up funding for their climate adaptation, mitigation actions, capacity building, technological transfer and forest protection. Denmark has since 2010 provided 2 billion DKK in funding under the Danish Climate Envelope to fight climate change. The programme in South Africa is funded with DKK 40 million.The Danish Energy Agency with assistance from the Royal Danish Embassy in South Africa is responsible for facilitating and coordinating the programme.