Day 3

After another hearty breakfast we set off for the University of Cape Town at 8.30 sharp. Armed with our flash presentations and our recently finished slides of the UK energy system, we were ready to change the world! …or, at least make some sensible policy recommendations about the future of South Africa’s energy scenario.

The day started by exchanging details about our research with our South African counterparts via flash presentations. It was interesting to see the range of work being completed by all the participants ranging from biological fuel cells using plant matter as fuel via microbes, to policy for micro-grids.

Next up, we learnt about the energy system in South Africa with Bruno Merven giving an overview of his work modelling the South African energy system. Miles from Eskom gave a more general overview of the energy landscape in South Africa, highlighting the reliance on coal and the difficulties involved with integrating more renewables into the grid whilst still keeping a high availability of supply. It was interesting to draw some parallels with the UK energy system. Broadly speaking demand in South Africa is similar to the UK. What was more concerning was the high proportion generation provided by coal. The generation capacity is still growing. Happily, the bulk of growth is due to come from renewables via Independent Power Producers (IPPs). The IPPs allow for growth in generation capacity without the need for large capital investment by Eskom. It appears there were parallels with the way the UK provided the enhanced frequency response (EFR) capacity.

The natural resource in South Africa is huge. This is true when talking about minerals, but also with regard to wind and solar resource. The worst sites for generation in South Africa have greater solar resource than the best sites in Western Europe. Cape Town is well known for being a windy city. The wind resource in the south west of South Africa comes largely from the trade winds. This means wind energy is not only abundant, but it is also relatively reliable, making the Western Cape an ideal location for wind generation.

After some brief comments to close the day from Pieter and being divvied up into our groups for the rest of the workshop, we decided to take an impromptu tour of the campus. We stopped for a while in front of the impressive Sarah Baartman Hall (recently renamed from the Jameson Memorial Hall) to admire the views over Cape Town. We then piled back into the van and returned to the hotel for a quick turnaround before dinner.

We set off to the Forrester’s Arms, a short 15 minute walk away from the hotel. It was refreshing to be able to walk this far in Cape Town, after the apparent emphasis on driving everywhere after sunset in much of the rest of South Africa. We met up with the South African contingent and enjoyed some good pub food (albeit with some of it made from ostrich meat). A fitting end to a successful day.