Electricity in South Africa

Electricity in South Africa
Electricity in South Africa
Table 2 shows figures for annual Eskom installed capacity, based on data published by the utility. The figures run from 2003 to 2013. In 2003 the utility’s total installed capacity was 42,011MW, but of this only 36,208MW was actually available to produce power for the grid, with the remainder either accounted for by Eskom’s auxiliary demand, or represented units that were either out of service or derated as a result of age.
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South Africa, the southern-most country of the African continent, is the most developed nation in sub-Saharan Africa. The country holds one of the world’s largest reserves of coal, and recent surveys suggest that there may be abundant unconventional natural gas reserves too. The electricity sector, dominated by the state utility Eskom, is well developed, and has an extensive transmission and distribution network. Even so, only around 75% of the population have access to electricity. Lack of investment, in either generating capacity of the transmission and distribution infrastructure, during the decade after full democracy was established in 1994 - led to a shortage of power in middle of the first decade of the twenty-first century, with blackouts and load shedding. Since then, the country has engaged in a massive electricity sector expansion programme - which expects to see generating capacity double by 2026. This will be achieved partly by expansion of the renewable energy sector, with both wind and solar power expected to contribute - so that by 2030 renewable sources could account for 40% of all generating capacity. In order to achieve this, the government is encouraging independent power producers, particularly in the renewable sector. The country is also planning a significant expansion of nuclear capacity to supplement its one operating nuclear plant.

This report is a Country Profile, covering
  • Power generation capacity by fuel input
  • Electricity networks
  • Current power market trends
  • Generation growth
  • Investment opportunities
  • Future project plans


  • An overview of the electricity market in South Africa.
  • Power supply data covering production, imports and exports and the main production sources.
  • Power demand data by market sector and tariff data.
  • An overview of the structure of the electricity sector with government and private sector companies as well as the regulatory status.
  • Power demand forecasts and the development of the power sector to meet expected growth.
  • Transmission system expansion plans.

Key Findings of the Report

  • Oil reserves in South Africa are estimated to be 15m bbl.
  • Proven coal reserves were estimated to be 27.4bn tonnes.
  • There is a high solar potential in South Africa. Many areas of the country experience direct irradiance of over 7.0kWh/m2/d, and these areas are often conveniently located for the grid.
  • Capacity problems during the last decade were caused by lack of investment, and state utility Eskom is now being forced to introduce a programme of investment, as well as trying to attract IPPs, and to diversify with more renewable capacity.
  • The transmission and distribution system in South Africa is based on a primary backbone of 400kV AC lines, supplemented with short distances of 765kV.

Key Questions Answered

  • How does South Africa generate its electricity?
  • What is the status of the national electricity market?
  • What are the key developments in electricity infrastructure?
  • Who are the key players in market?
  • What are the future prospects for investment in South Africa?

Date Published / Pages / Format

February, 2014 / 39 pages / PDF