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South Africa has a high energy demand that is rapidly increasing. We have many energy-hungry industries such as mining and metals processing which rely on low-cost electricity from coal burning. It is becoming apparent that traditional energy sources can no longer meet the power demand this is further highlighted by Eskom’s recent scheduled blackouts. Fortunately there is something that can be done. South Africa has huge potential with regards to renewable energy resources. An increase in renewable energy technologies will benefit South Africa in a number of ways:

• Reduction of greenhouse gases
• Increased energy supply i.e. no blackouts
• Employment creation
• Reduction of economic vulnerability to the escalating costs of imported fuels.

Several renewable resources have the potential to contribute significantly to South African energy supplies. In particular:

• Solar thermal (for heating), solar thermal electricity generation and solar photovoltaic electricity generation. Solar radiation levels in South Africa are amongst the highest in the world.

• Wind electricity generation.

• Biomass (heating, cooking, electricity and, in particular, liquid fuels for transport and cleaner cook stoves).

• Hydropower. South Africa is not particularly well endowed with hydropower potential, but there is potential to import hydropower & to develop locally significant micro-hydro potential.

• Wave power. This is a new technology, but one from which South Africa could benefit, as there is an extensive coast-line with high wave energy potential. Ocean currents, thermal gradients in the sea, and even ocean grown biomass could also play a future role.

• Other resources, such as geothermal, may play a lesser role