SUMMARY: The article examines the feasibility of an energy transition from a fossil-dominated system to a system based on renewable energy. The authors present five energy transition scenarios. Using an energy transition model and linear optimization, the authors model the scenarios to show how demand is met in each scenario and at what cost. The article investigates the optimal investment and generation technology mix needed to meet South Africa’s energy demand from 2015 to 2050. It is recommended that South Africa’s energy policy should be revised to factor solar PV and wind energy in its future electricity system.
KEY FINDING / RECOMMENDATIONS: The article finds that a 100% renewable energy system is feasible in South Africa and is more cost competitive. The best policy scenario (BPS) would rely on solar power supplying about 71% and wind energy 28% of demand. Water consumption for electricity could fall by 99% by 2050 and a renewable energy system could be 50% cheaper when factoring in greenhouse gas emission costs. The number of direct energy jobs in the BPS could grow from around 210 000 in 2015 to nearly 408 000 by 2035, steadily reducing to over 278 000 by 2050 as growth rates stabilise, while RE can supply 95.6% electricity by 2050 .