Visualisation of South African Energy Data

Last Updated: July 2024

1. Annual Energy Mix

The majority of South Africa’s electrical energy in 2023/24 was generated from coal (78.5% of total system demand), with renewable energy providing 8.8%. The South African system was unable to provide 4.4% of the electricity demand (i.e., mainly load shedding). This data is for the latest year up to the end of 2024 Q2 (quarter 2).

No additional utility-scale installed generation capacity was added in 2023/24. Note that the figure below, however, excludes embedded and private generation.

Annual electricity production from coal as a percentage of total production continued to decrease in 2023, with a corresponding increase in unserved energy. Note that there is a slight downward trend in national energy requirements.

Electricity peak demand and energy production both trended downwards since 2010.

Renewable energy installed capacity and energy production are increasing in South Africa, but still constitute a small portion of the total capacity and energy mix. CSP costs are high and have more variability than wind and solar PV costs, which are both on a stable downward trend.

2. Monthly Electrical Production

The following figure is zoomed in for clarity – see y-axis.

The Energy Availability Factor (EAF) is the amount of energy a generator was able to produce compared to its capacity over a period. From the figure below it is clear that the EAF has decreased from 2018 to 2023.

Considering the EAF, the remaining unserved capacity is considered loss. This loss is split into planned, unplanned, and other losses.

Research is currently being conducted at the CRSES to investigate the correlation between diesel usage and load shedding. Until this research is complete, the two metrics are plotted together here.

The contribution of renewable energy varies both daily and seasonally. Solar PV is not well aligned to the typical system electricity demand, as seen in the figures below.

Wind production is also variable throughout the year, but in general aligns better with the total system demand. The location of the wind farm can impact the daily and seasonal production profiles significantly.

3. Embedded Solar PV Capacity

The installation of privately owned solar photovoltaics (PV), also known as embedded generation, has increased dramatically in recent years, driven by increasing electricity prices, decreasing PV technology costs and increased load shedding.

By May 2023, the capacity of embedded PV was almost double that of utility-scale PV. This contributes to South Africa’s generation capacity, assisting with the mitigation of generation adequacy problems resulting in load shedding. A high penetration of embedded generation does, however, give rise to new challenges. Embedded generation systems, especially unregistered ones, are invisible to the utility during operation, and cannot be controlled easily. Power system operations (i.e. making sure that the system is stable) becomes more challenging.

This data can also be separated per province.

The integration of wind and PV into existing power systems impacts a variety of technical aspects on a local, regional, and system-wide (national) level. Some of these impacts are relevant from the first wind and PV installations on a network, while other impacts only start occurring as the share of renewables on the network grows. In South Africa we need to investigate constrained flexibility, while stability will only become a challenge in the 2030s (based on our existing electricity policy).

4. Load Shedding

Load shedding is increasing exponentially in recent years. In 2023 we experienced 6 838 hours (78%) of load shedding out of the 8 760 hours in the year.

We can now zoom in on the last few years and categorize the load shedding by stage. There was an 81% increase from 2022 to 2023 in the total number of hours. Stage 6 increased significantly from 2022 to 2023, by 505%.

Load shedding suddenly disappeared in April.

The upper limit of load shedding refers to the maximum load that could be shed during a specific stage. Stage 1 has a load shedding upper limit of 1000MW, stage 2: 2000MW, stage 3: 3000 MW and so on. Therefore, the unserved energy (what was actually shed) is lower than the upper limit of that stage. Now we can compare the unserved energy with this upper limit for each month. These are also correlated to the load shedding hours.

References

Department of Statistics South Africa: https://www.statssa.gov.za/.

Eskom 2022 (TDP 2023 – 32): Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. (2022). The Eskom
Transmission Development Plan (TDP) 2023 – 2032.

Eskom 2024: Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. (2024). Eskom Data Portal. https://www.eskom.co.za/dataportal/.

Eskom 2024: Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. (2024). Eskom System Status Reports. https://www.eskom.co.za/eskom-divisions/tx/system-adequacy-reports/.

GreenCape 2023: GreenCape Sector Development Agency (2023). Market Intelligence
Reports. https://greencape.co.za/market-intelligence/.

IRENA 2023: International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). (2023). Renewable energy
statistics 2023. www.irena.org.

Mararakanye & Bekker 2019: Mararakanye, N., & Bekker, B. (2019). Renewable energy integration impacts within the context of generator type, penetration level and grid
characteristics. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 108, 441–451. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.RSER.2019.03.045.

SALGA 2023: SALGA. (2023). Status of Embedded Generation in South African Municipalities. www.salga.org.za.

Eskom se Push: wellwellwell (Pty) Ltd. (2024). ESP – The Best Loadshedding app. https://esp.info/.

Visualisation of South African Energy Data © 2024 by The Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (Stellenbosch University) is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. Adapters must indicate any modifications made to the original work. Stellenbosch University is disclaimed as the copyright owner and bears no responsibility for the use of derivatives.