South Africa is the 15th 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.
Concrete focus areas
The partnership programme will aim to provide relevant technical support in order to contribute to South Africa’s ambition to increase its renewable energy capacity. The partnership with DoE and ESKOM covers an area of work that is not covered by other development partners in South Africa and thus fills an important gap. The programme focuses on areas where Denmark has particular expertise to offer such as the integration of high shares of renewable energy into the grid, advanced forecasting, and the transition from a fossil fuel-based electricity system to one that to a larger extent is diversified, for example through the use of policy implementation scenarios to help support policy making and long range planning.
The cooperation is divided in to two parts or “Development Engagements”. The first Development Engagement focuses on “Recurrent planning processes and attached input are informed by even more consolidated data, forecasts, peer reviewed assumptions and additional long range policy implementation scenarios for a less-carbon intensive electricity sector including through expansion of RE-generation capacity”. The second Development Engagement objective is to facilitate the development of a less carbon intensive power sector by assisting in ensuring a “enhanced power system ability to integrate the renewable energy generated in a cost effective way”.
The transformation of the electricity supply sector will require the development of additional expertise in the regulation, management and operation of the South African power system. If renewables are to be recognised as a viable alternative and play an even greater role in reducing GHG emissions, it is important that RE is integrated efficiently and in a manner that realises the full potential of RE in the power system.
Regulatory and technical experience from Denmark in integration of high shares of renewable in the power mix can be used as a good basis for improving the utilization of RE in South Africa’s power sector. Likewise, a better utilization of RE is expected to be of mutual benefit to Danish and South African private sector companies, increasing the demand and opportunities for delivering green energy solutions and expertise. The transformational effect is expected create opportunities for technology transfer to, and new jobs in the South African power sector.
Funding from the Danish Climate Envelope
Denmark has allocated DKK 115 million from the Climate Envelope to continue the cooperation with Mexico, Vietnam, China and South Africa under the Danish Energy Agency Energy Partnership Programme (DEPP) in a second phase. The DEPP phase II was formally approved on 28th of June 2017 for a 3-year period. DEPP II is implemented within the framework of “The World 2030 - Denmark’s strategy for development cooperation and humanitarian action”, UN Sustainable Development Goals, Danida Aid Management Guidelines and guiding principles of the Danish Climate Envelope.
The objective of the DEPP phase II is to assist Mexico, Viet Nam, China and South Africa with their transition to a low carbon economy and support for the implementation of the Paris Agreement. The support is based on Denmark’s long standing experience on energy transition away from a fossil fuel economy.