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South Africa Likely to Miss 2030 Renewable Energy Target

Renewable energy will account for just 20 percent of South Africa's power mix by the end of this decade, reports Rystad Energy.

July 12, 2023. By Anurima Mondal

South Africa had targeted lifting the share of renewable energy in its power generation mix from 11 percent currently to 41 percent by 2030 by increasing onshore wind and solar capacity. While both of these have shown significant growth in recent years, South Africa renewable power capacity is likely to miss its 2030 target.
According to a new report by Rystad Energy, renewable energy will account for just 20 percent of South Africa's power mix by the end of this decade.
The report says that by 2030, power generation in South Africa is expected to increase by more than 40 percent, soaring from approximately 210 terawatt-hours (TWh) currently to 300 TWh by the decade’s end.
Although significant investments have been made in advancing renewable energy capacity and paving the way for a cleaner power mix, the current pipeline of onshore wind projects especially is unlikely to support its ambitious targets.
At present, coal dominates South Africa’s power mix, accounting for more than 80 percent of electricity generation. As well as being polluting, South Africa’s reliance on aging coal power plants has led to frequent breakdowns and maintenance problems, triggering widespread blackouts across the country.
To facilitate the deployment of renewables, South Africa is working on improving its transmission infrastructure. Inadequate transmission capacity has been a major hindrance in effectively integrating renewable technologies into the grid.
Natural gas and battery storage come with their own challenges. Gas turbines, with their fast ramp-up rates and relatively low costs, provide flexibility in supplying power when renewable sources are not available.
Large-scale battery storage can also play a pivotal role in storing excess energy for use when demand spikes. These technologies will be essential for ensuring a reliable and stable power supply as South Africa seeks to increase the share of renewables in its generation mix.
"Renewables and clean technologies hold the potential for reshaping South Africa’s energy landscape, contributing to a more sustainable future. By diversifying power generation and addressing immediate challenges, the country can pave the way for a resilient energy sector that aligns with its environmental goals and ensures a brighter future. But South Africa faces an uphill battle and significant hurdles in achieving its goal," says Nivedh Das Thaikoottathil, renewables and power analyst at Rystad Energy.
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