Energy Blue Print
Archive 2009

Moving from principles to action for energy supply that mitigates against climate change requires a long-term perspective. Energy infrastructure takes time to build up; new energy technologies take time to develop. Policy shifts often also need many years to take effect. In most world regions the transformation from fossil to renewable energies will require additional investment and higher supply costs over about twenty years

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south africa energy [r]evolution scenario

climate threats and climate solutions

Global climate change caused by the relentless build-up of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere is already disrupting ecosystems, resulting in about 150,000 additional deaths each year.An average global warming of 2°C threatens millions of people with an increased risk of hunger, malaria, flooding and water shortages.If rising temperatures are to be kept within acceptable limits then we need to significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. This makes both environmental and economic sense. The main greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide ( CO2) produced by using fossil fuels for energy and transport.

climate change and security of supply

Spurred by recent large increases in the price of oil, the issue of security of supply is now at the top of the energy policy agenda. One reason for these price increases is the fact that supplies of all fossil fuels – oil, gas and coal – are becoming scarcer and more expensive to produce. The days of ‘cheap oil and gas’ are coming to an end. Uranium, the fuel for nuclear power, is also a finite resource. By contrast, the reserves of renewable energy that are technically accessible globally are large enough to provide about six times more power than the world currently consumes - forever.

Renewable energy technologies vary widely in their technical and economic maturity, but there are a range of sources which offer increasingly attractive options. These include wind, biomass,photovoltaic, solar thermal, geothermal, ocean and hydro electric power. Their common feature is that they produce little or no greenhouse gases, and rely on virtually inexhaustible natural sources for their ‘fuel’. Some of these technologies are already competitive. Their economics will further improve as they develop technically, as the price of fossil fuels continues to rise and as their saving of carbon dioxide emissions is given a monetary value.

At the same time there is enormous potential for reducing our consumption of energy, while providing the same level of energy services. This study details a series of energy efficiency measures which together can substantially reduce demand in industry, homes,business and services.

Although nuclear power produces little CO2, there are multiple threats to people and the environment from its operations. These include the risks and environmental damage from uranium mining,processing and transport, the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation,the unsolved problem of nuclear waste and the potential hazard ofa serious accident. The nuclear option is therefore discounted in thisanalysis. The solution to our future energy needs lies instead ingreater use of renewable energy sources for both heat and power.  

the energy [r]evolution: a sustainable pathway to a clean energy future for south africa

The Energy [R]evolution scenario reduces carbon dioxide emissions from the South African energy sector by 54% below 1990 levels by2050. This, in concert with additional greenhouse gas savings in other sectors, is necessary to keep the increase in global temperature as much below +2°C as possible. A second objective of the energy [r]evolution is the global phasing out of nuclear energy.To achieve these targets, the scenario is characterised by significantefforts to fully exploit the large potential for energy efficiency. At the same time, all cost-effective renewable energy sources are accessed for both heat and electricity generation.

Today, renewable energy sources account for 10.7% of the South African primary energy demand. Biomass, which is mainly used for heating, is the main renewable energy source. The share of renewable energies for electricity generation is 1.2%. The contribution of renewables to primary energy demand for heat supply is around 33%. About 90% of the South African primary energy supply today still comes from fossil fuels.

The Energy [R]evolution scenario describes a development pathway which turns the present situation into a sustainable energy supply for South Africa:

  • Exploitation of the existing large energy efficiency potentials will slow down the rapid growth of primary energy demand. Under the Reference scenario, total primary energy demand will increase by a factor of 1.6 from the current 5,496 PJ/a to 8,868 PJ/a in2050. In the Energy [R]evolution scenario, primary energy demand increases up to 6,361 PJ/a by 2020 and decreases to a level of 5,381 PJ/a in 2050.
  • The increased use of combined heat and power generation (CHP)increases the supply system’s energy conversion efficiency. Fossil fuels for CHP are increasingly being substituted by biomass and geothermal energy. The availability of district heating networks is a precondition for achieving a high share of decentralised CHP. Inthe long term, the decreasing demand for heat and the large potential for producing heat directly from renewable energy sources limit the further expansion of combined heat and power generation.
  • The electricity sector will continue to be the forerunner of renewable energy sources (RES) utilisation. By 2050, 75.6% of the electricity will be produced from renewable energy sources.A capacity of 86 GW will produce 343 TWh/a renewable electricity in 2050.
  • In the heat supply sector, the contribution of renewables will continue to grow, reaching more than 71% in 2050. In particular,modern biomass, solar collectors and geothermal energy willsubstitute conventional systems for direct heating and cooling.
  • Before sustainable bio fuels are introduced in the transport sector, the existing large efficiency potentials have to be exploited. As biomass is mainly bound in stationary applications,the production of bio fuels is limited by the availability of biomass. Electric vehicles will play an increasingly important role from 2020 onwards.
  • By 2050, 47.8% of the primary energy demand will be covered by renewable energy sources.

To achieve an economically attractive growth of renewable energy sources, a balanced and timely mobilisation of all RES technologies is of great importance. Such mobilisation depends on technical potentials,actual costs, cost reduction potentials, and technological maturity.

development of CO2 emissions

Whilst South Africa’s emissions of CO2 will almost double under the Reference scenario, under the Energy [R]evolution scenario they will decrease from 319 million tonnes in 2005 to 130 m/t in 2050.Annual per capita emissions will drop from 6.7 tonnes to2.3 t. In spite of increasing demand, CO2 emissions will decrease in the electricity sector. In the long run efficiency gains and the increased use of renewable electricity in vehicles will even reduceCO2 emissions in the transport sector. The power sector will maintain the role as the largest sources of CO2 emissions in South Africa, with a share of 50% of total CO2 emissions in 2050.

According to latest scientific findings, further emissions reductions may be necessary. These would require the further development of currently less developed renewable energy sources, such as ocean energy, and further efficiency measures. This will require further research and development funding, as well as bold political measures. At the same time, lifestyle and behaviour changes could become increasingly important. To complement these savings in the energy sector, further reductions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions have to be achieved through the phase out of fluor inated gases, a strict stop on deforestation and the increase of the natural carbon sequestration potential by forests and soils, for example by the regeneration of forests and sustainable farming practices.  


The introduction of renewable technologies under the Energy[R]evolution scenario slightly increases the costs of electricity generation compared to the Reference scenario. This difference will be less than 0.7 cents/kWh up to 2020. Because of the lower CO2intensity of electricity generation, by 2020 electricity generation costs will become economically favourable under the Energy Revolution scenario, and by 2050 generation costs will be more than 6.9 cents/kWh below those in the Reference scenario. Under the Reference scenario, the unchecked growth in demand, the increase in fossil fuel prices and the cost of CO2 emissions result in total electricity supply costs rising from today’s $ 16.5 billion per year to more than $ 101 billion in 2050, $ 46.8 billion more than the Energy [R]evolution scenario. The inclusion of the costs of CO2emissions further emphasises the long-term economic benefits of the Energy [R]evolution scenario.

To make the energy [r]evolution real and to avoid dangerous climate change, Greenpeace demand forthe energy sector that the following policies and actions are implemented:

  • Set effective emission reduction targets in line with the 2°Celsius global warming limit.
  • Phase out all subsidies and other support measures for inefficient plants, appliances, vehicles and buildings, as well as for fossil fuel use and nuclear power installations.
  • Secure an effective emissions trading system that makes polluters pay.
  • Set stringent and ever-improving efficiency standards.
  • Implement legally binding targets and stable support for renewable energy.
  • Remove barriers to renewable energy development and reform the electricity market.
  • Develop marketing, training and awareness-raising for renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.
  • Support innovation in energy efficiency, low-carbon vehicles,renewable energy.