1st Edition

South Africa’s Energy Transition A Roadmap to a Decarbonised, Low-cost and Job-rich Future

    162 Pages 40 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    174 Pages 40 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    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. Owing to its formidable solar and wind resources, South Africa has an almost unparalleled opportunity to turn solar photovoltaic and onshore wind generators into the country’s power generation workhorses – a role hitherto played by coal. This book shows that a renewables-led mix will not only provide the lowest cost, but will also create more jobs than any of the alternatives currently under consideration. In addition, it offers a glimpse of how South Africa’s low-cost and decarbonised electricity system can power a competitive industrial economy, an electric-mobility revolution and, in the long run, create new export opportunities.

    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.





    Chapter One: A tipping point

    Chapter Two: How did we get here?

    Chapter Three: It’s all about solar and wind

    Chapter Four: Electrification of just about everything

    Chapter Five: No showstoppers

    Chapter Six: Democratisation of electricity generation

    Chapter Seven: Just transition


    Tobias Bischof-Niemz is the Head of Corporate Business Development at ENERTRAG AG, a Berlin-based global clean-energy company. He previously established and led the Energy Centre at the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Pretoria, and holds a PhD from TU Darmstadt, Germany, and an MPA from Columbia University, New York, USA.

    Terence Creamer is a South African journalist who has been writing about the country’s energy sector since 1994. He is currently editor of Creamer Media’s Engineering News and a contributing editor to Mining Weekly and Polity.



    "Bischof-Niemz and Creamer provide the knowledge base for South Africa’s energy transition towards a renewables-based energy system. The positive news is that there is no trade-off anymore between clean and least-cost electricity. In fact, the opportunities for economic growth associated with the transition are enormous."Nhlanhla Nene, Minister of Finance, Republic of South Africa

    "We started the Energiewende in 2000 amidst uncertainties: Which technologies will win? How much state support before they reach cost competitiveness? But we moved ahead regardless, and were successful. Today, new solar parks and wind generators are the cheapest forms of electricity generation – by far; and South Africa can reap the benefits."Rainer Baake, former Minister of Energy, Federal Republic of Germany

    "This book explores options at hand for progressive governments to move towards a diversified energy mix that stimulates inclusive economic growth and increases energy access, and responsibly manage the transition to a lower-carbon economy. These alternative energy technologies are fast approaching, like a tsunami, and require governments to be agile." Dr Tsakani Lotten Mthombeni, Chairperson, Energy Intensive Users Group of Southern Africa (EIUG), South Africa

    "While the German Energy Transition is moving into the second phase, South Africa can reap the benefits of being a ‘follower country’ that does not have to pay the – sometimes painful – school fees of early adopters anymore, but can move with full speed into the least-cost, least-carbon energy future."Jörg Müller, Founder and CEO, ENERTRAG AG, Germany

    "Drawing on their considerable insight into South Africa’s technical power supply system and its political economy, the authors present riveting reflections on energy transition milestones and illustrate in practical, even-handed terms how it could accelerate national development and regain South Africa’s global status as a preferred electricity investment destination." Brenda Martin, CEO, South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA), South Africa

    "This lucid roadmap for South Africa’s business-led, market-driven transition to diverse, distributed, clean, resilient, renewable electricity demystifies a worldclass winning strategy. Coupled with South Africa’s immense potential to use electricity far more efficiently, renewable power can build a fairer, richer, healthier, cooler, and safer nation, for all, for ever." Amory B. Lovins, Co-founder and Chief Scientist, Rocky Mountain Institute, USA

    "The fact base provided in this book is rich and it is necessary as a basis for an informed societal discussion about the future of the South African energy system – whatever the outcome of that discussion may be." Nelisiwe Magubane, Founder and CEO, Matleng Energy Solutions, South Africa

    "Creamer and Bischof-Niemz manage to boil the rather complex topic of energy systems down to the key issues, without losing accuracy." Prof Dr Clemens Hoffmann, Director, Fraunhofer IEE, Germany

    "Renewables not only can create substantial jobs and industrialisation for South Africans, but they can do so in an environmentally sustainable way as well. Bischof-Niemz and Creamer illustrate this in great detail. Now we need good policy decisions to ensure a just transition to a clean energy future." Tasneem Essop, Founder of The Energy Democracy Initiative, South Africa

    "This book outlines the South African version of a global phenomenon: the transition away from fossil fuels to a clean energy economy. Well worth a read." Steve Sawyer, Secretary General, Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), Belgium