Volatile Oil Prices Accelerates Renewables In South Africa

National Economy

The African country of the Republic of South Africa is bordered by the South Atlantic Ocean, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Eswatini, and the Indian Ocean. The population of South Africa is approximately 61.44 million people[1].

In 2022, South Africa was ranked 32nd in the world in gross domestic product (GDP)[2]. The country’s economy is dependent on the export[3] of platinum, gold, iron ore, diamonds, coal, manganese ore, chromium ore, precious metal ore, and titanium ore.

Environmental Policies

In 2016, South Africa signed the Paris Climate Agreement[4], committing to a peak, plateau, and decline greenhouse gas emission program. The program is for emissions to peak between 2020 to 2025, plateau for approximately ten years and then begin to rapidly decline.

Power Generation Capabilities

In 2020, 84.4% of the people in South Africa had  access to electricity[5]. In 2021, the state-owned utility, Eskom used coal (86.3%), renewable energy (7.6%), nuclear power (5.5%), and oil (0.6%) to generate electricity in South Africa[6]. Wind and solar are the dominant types of renewable energy used to generate electricity in South Africa.

Recent renewable energy projects in South Africa include:

  • 148 MW Solar Project – French power company, Voltalia is continuing work on the Bolobedu solar project at a site approximately 700 miles northeast of the nation’s capital, Cape Town. The project is forecast to be commissioned by year-end 2024.
  • 140 MW Onshore Wind Project – In November 2020, Dutch renewable energy company, Lekela Power commissioned the Kangnas Wind project, located approximately 275 miles north of Cape Town.
  • 123 MW Onshore Wind Project – In May 2021, South African renewable energy company, BioTherm commissioned the Golden Valley Wind project, located approximately 130 miles east of Cape Town.
  • 86 MW Solar Project – In May 2023, U.S. company, Solar Capital commissioned the Northern Cape solar project at a site approximately 225 miles north-northeast of Cape Town.
  • 84 MW Onshore Wind Project – German renewable energy company, JUWI Group is continuing work on the Wolf Wind project at a site approximately 400 miles east of Cape Town. The project is forecast to be commissioned by April 2024.
  • 68 MW Solar Project – In September 2020, a consortium formed by the American investment firm, Ideas Fund, commissioned the Bokamoso Solar project, located approximately 650 miles northeast of Cape Town.
  • 4 MW Mini-Hydro Project – In March 2021, the South African power company, Red Rocket commissioned the Kruisvallei hydroelectric power station on the Ash River in the eastern region of the country.


In 2021, South African[7] coal exports generated U.S. $6.72 Billion. In 2021, South Africa was the 5th largest coal exporting country[8] in the world.

Although South Africa is a major exporter of coal, the nation imports oil for power generation and transportation. In 2021, South Africa imported[9] U.S. $7.85 Billion for refined petroleum and U.S. $5.42 Billion for crude oil.

On 24 February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, prompting the European Union, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand to place economic sanctions on Russian imports and exports. As a result, the crude oil and natural gas prices increased by over 50% from May 2021 to May 2022.

South Africa’s cost for imported crude oil and refined petroleum is projected to soar, which will further fuel inflation. Volatile oil prices has encouraged South Africa to accelerate the development of reliable renewable energy.

Jack Kerfoot

Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”

www.jack kerfoot.com


Jack Kerfoot is a scientist, energy expert, and author of the book FUELING AMERICA, An Insider’s Journey and articles for The Hill, one of the largest independent political news sites in the United States. He has been interviewed on over 100 radio, podcast, and television stations from New York City to Los Angeles on a diverse range of energy issues.


[1] South Africa Population (2023) –  May 14, 2023, www.worldometers.info

[2] Gross Domestic Product By Country 2021 – Worldometer

[3] Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC) – South Africa

[4] Carbon Brief – “2015: Tracking Country Climate Pledges”

[5] Access To Electricity (% Population) – South Africa, The World Bank Group

[6] Our World In Data, South Africa: Energy Country Profile by Hanna Ritchie and Max Roser

[7] The Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC) – South Africa Exports

[8] Coal Exports By Country 2021 by Daniel Workman

[9] The Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC) – South Africa Imports

Share and Enjoy !


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *