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Renewable Energy Prospects: South Africa

The study defines a trajectory to 2030 based on current government policies and plans and identifies the options for additional renewables deployment by energy-use sector and technology.


The Republic of South Africa is the third-largest economy in Africa and the highest primary energy consumer on the continent. The country has successfully scaled up national renewables-based generation at a competitive cost and has developed ambitious plans for gradually reducing national coal-based generation capacity. 

This report presents an in-depth analysis of the country’s renewable energy prospects in the years to come and identifies untapped potential and quantifies other factors, such as costs, investment needs and the effect on externalities related to air pollution and the environment.

South Africa could realistically, and cost-effectively, supply 49% of its electricity mix from renewables by 2030, nearly a third higher than the share to be expected from current plans and policies, the report finds. With renewable power, heat and fuels all factored in, renewables could provide 23% of South Africa’s total final energy consumption in 2030, up from just 9% overall in 2015.

This Remap study, IRENA’s renewable energy roadmap programme to scale up renewables, recommends the following key actions be taken:

  • Optimise the national energy sector structure (through realignment)
  • Clarify and simplify the regulatory environment and ensure consistent implementation of polices
  • Undertake research in key areas for the energy transformation (including innovative technologies and socio-economic aspects)
  • Realise the potential of embedded generation, increase sector coupling capacity in transportation and industry
  • Widen the use of private public partnerships in the deployment of renewable energy