Prospects of decentralized renewable energy to improve energy access: A resource-inventory-based analysis of South Africa
Publication date: April 2019
Source: Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Volume 103
Author(s): Debendra Chandra Baruah, Christopher Chintua Enweremadu
Approximately 1.5 million South African households (~16 million total) are still relying on paraffin, fuel wood, candle, and coal for their daily quota of energy. Although coal-based power generation is apparently easier for coal-rich South Africa, an increasing share of large-scale renewable energy (solar and wind) is mandated due to environmental concerns. In this work, prospect of two distributed renewable resources (farm manure and solar radiation) for a decentralized renewable energy (DRE) program targeting quality energy access for a non-electrified population, was investigated based on ground-level assessments. The potential demands of electrical and thermal energy were assessed and compared to the anticipated decentralized generation of biogas and solar photovoltaic power for all nine provinces of South Africa. In all provinces, except Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, farm manure could support the thermal energy requirements for cooking and water and space heating of non-electrified households. Further, farm manure could support the combined thermal and electrical loads of Western Cape and Free State. Similarly, decentralized solar photovoltaic power can support electrical loads in all provinces. A well-planned DRE program integrated with the development of indigenous technologies and local enterprises would benefit the economically and socially vulnerable households of South Africa, apart from fulfilling the additional energy demand and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
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