Sustainable Growth

Monday, 28 February 2022

Exploring alternative options for coal truckers in a biomass supply chain

  • Year: 2022
  • Organisation: TIPS and WWF South Africa
  • Author(s): Farai Chireshe and Tjasa Bole-Rentel (WWF South Africa)
  • Countries and Regions: South Africa

The potential for biomass supply chains to provide alternative employment opportunities for people currently employed in coal trucking is vast. Side tipper trucker jobs are a low-hanging fruit as they are used both for the transportation of coal and the largest source of sustainable biomass in South Africa, namely invasive alien plants. Almost 75% of the current coal jobs could be directly transitioned to biomass transport via side tipper trucks. In addition, the biomass supply chains considered in this study could supply over 600 superlink driver jobs. About 480 superlink trucks would be required, which means some of the current coal side tipper trailers would have to be converted to flatbeds. More than 300 tanker driver jobs could furthermore be provided by the biomass supply chain.

This report is part of the Making Sense of Employment in South Africa's Just Energy Transition project. TIPS and the WWF South Africa, with the support of GIZ, are implementing an initiative to support policymaking for South Africa's just transition. This focuses on employment and the relevant challenges and opportunities in the country's just energy transition.

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Exploring alternative options for coal truckers in a biomass supply chain - Highlights

The energy shift will result in a reduction in coal use, and thus a reduction in coal transportation, which currently provides employment for approximately 4000 truck drivers. Given South Africa's large biomass feedstock base and parallels in coal and biomass hauling operations, coal transporters may be able to find alternate livelihoods by hauling sustainable biomass for emerging green industries such as manufacturing sustainable aviation fuels (SAF). Establishing nationwide biomass supply chains could result in nearly 7 500 trucking jobs, over half of  that (about 3 800) in coal producing regions, providing coal haulers an alternative option.

Almost 3 000 trucker jobs in the coal regions could be for side tipper truck drivers, meaning that almost 75% of the current coal hauling jobs could be directly transitioned to biomass hauling. In addition to the jobs saved in refueling and truck maintenance, biomass supply chains in coal districts could result in the creation of approximately 400 support jobs.

More details can be found in the infographic below, and the full report.

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