COP21 - What does the Paris Outcome mean for South Africa and its cities. 

Paris Outcome signals the end of business as usual for energy industries and potentially locks the world into green transitions. For the first time in history, more than 150 developed and developing countries around the world have promised to reduce GHG emissions. How binding are these agreements and how does it provide impetus for action at a local level?

Upcoming Urban Energy Network meeting: 16 -17 March in Johannesburg

SEA features in Engineering News

Article: Local governments must play bigger role in energy sector

Is it possible to alleviate the energy poverty burden on Gauteng's informal settlements?

The Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and SEA have recently completed a feasibility study and implementation plan on the use of appropriate alternative energy technologies to address health and safety issues in unelectrified informal settlements in the province. The study is a first step towards developing a plan to improve indoor air quality in a sustainable way. 

City of Joburg is doing things differently

Read how the City of Joburg plans to use mixed energy packages to service its informal settlements. Using a combination of electricity and gas, this novel approach delivers energy appropriately to meets its end use in an effective, efficient and sustainable way.

Comparing the cash: electricity generation options

The Parliamentary Budget Office, recently released a report on comparative costs of various electricity generation technology options, as well as other interesting metrics such as lead-in times and the probability of cost overruns. Click here to find the report.

Energising Polokwane: Household energy moves from strategy to action

With support from SEA and the University of Limpopo, the Municipality of Polokwane is working towards reducing energy poverty through providing clean, safe, affordable and reliable energy services. Find out more about this inclusive initiative.

From wells-to-wheels – which car types are better?

Using an open source spreadsheet calculator developed by SEA, the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were compared for different types of powered vehicles in the South African context. See how the electric cars compare.


19 - 20 October 2016, Durban

The FIRST-EVER model of the urban energy future of Sub-Saharan Africa.

SEA, through the SAMSET programme has published a working paper which presents the results of an energy futures modelling exercise of cities in Sub-Saharan Africa. The preliminary results show that while emissions will grow substantially, if the  SE4All goals are achieved, a 20% decline in this growth could be realised.

Covenant of Mayors extends its reach into Sub-Saharan Africa

The Covenant of Mayors now enters its next phase in Sub-Saharan Africa. This exciting initiative aims at increasing the capacities of cities to provide access to sufficient, sustainable and safe energy services to urban populations. The call for proposals is out.

How can cities be supported to achieve national emissions reductions targets in South Africa?

SEA has recently undertaken a study to determine the opportunities for urban emissions reductions in South Africa. This briefing paper examines the influence of cities in achieving national targets and recommends how national structures and mechanisms can be used to enable greater achievements in cities. Read the briefing paper.

Cape Town: Energy 2040

Following the 3rd State of Energy report for Cape Town last year, the city embarked on their second energy futures study. The Energy2040 vision was developed. The vision covers a range of measures for the next 5 years towards achieving the goal of a low carbon, resilient and resource efficient city. 

A fresh look at energy use in the informal economy

In a recent scoping exercise on energy consumption for productive uses in the informal sector, it was found that the food sector was an important source of income for the urban poor. The research highlights that multiple fuel uses are prevalent and that energy policy needs to consider this when developing plans in the local environment. Read the report here.

Financing sustainable development in secondary cities

ICLEI Africa have recently published a report on financing green infrastructure in secondary cities. The report explores support and finance alternative options in the context of risk and uncertainty in rapidly urbanising municipalities, using Saldanha Bay as and example.

Will small-scale renewable energy crush municipal revenue?

Municipalities across the country have been concerned about revenue losses resulting from customer uptake of energy efficiency and small-scale renewable energy. Using the most comprehensive model developed to date by Sustainable Energy Africa, they show that energy efficiency has the biggest impact on revenue and service delivery. To find out more about this and to calculate what your projected municipal losses are, read more here

Conflicting agendas - Reflections on a low-carbon development process in municipalities

The ICLEI Urban-LEDS project adopted a unique collaborative scenario planning approach to low-emission development planning in two South African municipalities. It reveals diverse insights into the challenges linking climate change to the future economic competitiveness of the region.

Innovative Densification: Showcasing the Joe Slovo National Flagship Housing Project

The Joe Slovo settlement in Cape Town has been used to demonstrate the Department of Human Settlements’ approach to sustainable housing under the IRDP initiative. Built at the same cost as a conventional RDP house, this pioneering densification project includes, amongst other interventions, improved thermal performance and energy services.

The first of its kind - SALGA launches the energy efficiency and renewable energy strategy for local government

The innovative strategy developed by Sustainable Energy Africa was launched by SALGA and the Swiss Development Cooperation earlier this year. The strategy was developed using a bottom up consultation process which involved all municipalities in the country. Eight priority areas were identified.

Will wind energy in eThekwini be the end of birds?

With numerous wind farms emerging in the country, eThekwini investigates the effect of these farms on biodiversity within its Municipality. Using the Wind Repowering Project for the study, the research shows the importance of a location-specific investigation for realistic impacts.

Cape Town shares its lessons from installing energy efficient interventions at the Gallows Hill Building

The City of Cape Town is in the process of implementing sustainable energy efficiency measures in some of its public buildings. The first of these is the Gallows Hill Traffic Department building, which has implemented smart metering, rooftop PV systems and LED lighting. There have been clear benefits in electricity consumption reduction and interesting lessons have emerged.

Small Scale Embedded Generation: Solar PV challenges and approaches for local government

While municipalities are being plagued with applications for small scale solar PV they still face financial, technical and regulatory hurdles around this. Sustainable Energy Africa outlines these challenges and clarifies the steps necessary to ensure that SSEG introduction is undertaken in a way that does not threaten municipal revenue or compromise power system quality and safety.

Small Scale Embedded Generation – Update to the regulations

SALGA, AMEU and Eskom, with the support of GIZ, have been collaborating to provide NERSA with a formal submission of comments on the 'Standard Conditions for Small Scale Embedded Generation' issued by NERSA. Technical workshops relating to safety aspects of embedded generation are also underway.

One stop urban energy information portal - Urban Energy Support website

We announce with great excitement that Sustainable Energy Africa, in partnership with SALGA, have recently developed the Urban Energy Support website, which serves as an information portal of relevant documents and resources related to the urban energy sector. The website provides important practical tools and guides for municipalities to support the transition towards sustainable local energy development and a local carbon trajectory.

New research shows overwhelming savings in support of densification

A new model developed by SEA shows that if densification is applied to the Voortrekker Road Corridor in Cape Town, a 50% reduction in energy and carbon emissions can be realised, along with a financial saving of ZAR 2 billion per year by 2034 in that area.

The Small-Scale Embedded Generation conundrum - see how NMMB tackles the the issue

In 2012,Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality included embedded generation in their Green Economy Business Plan. Rather than viewing SSEG as a threat to their revenue, they have instead seen it as an enabler for long term economic development and have view thus made significant progress in allowing feed in into the grid. Read the case study to learn more about their experiences.

Can day light savings help with the electricity supply crisis? EThekwini investigates this highly controversial topic

EThekwini recently completed a pre-feasibility study on the effect of mandatory day light saving on electricity consumption. The study reveals that the potential for reductions in the residential sector is negligible but could have substantial benefits on electricity peak loads and traffic congestion if implemented properly as a voluntary option.

Study Confirms SACN Member Cities Are Sitting on a Goldmine of Energy Savings Potential

An important new study, has confirmed that cities are sitting on significant energy savings potential within their operations. It also shows that past energy efficiency retrofit programs in cities have been successful in improving efficiency. This report compiled by SEA provides an analysis of the potential energy savings that can be realised from energy efficiency in municipal facilities and operations. You can find the full report here. If you would like to calculate the energy efficiency potential for your municipality click here.

Cape Town uses an exciting partnership approach to develop a low carbon strategy for the central city

Cape Town Partnership, together with the Stockholm Environment Institute and SEA have developed a new way to tackle low carbon development within cities. By defining emission sources and using private public partnerships, a clear and implementable plan was developed. If you would like get involved contact the CTP offices.

The mysteries of energy data

Access to data is critical for future energy planning. SEA has been undertaking State of Energy reports for more than a decade and these reports rely heavily on detailed, accurate and up-to-date energy data. While our experience has shown that data collection and accessibility has improved considerably within the large municipalities, several data issues still plague the sector. These issues are highlighted here.

To frack or not to frack? Key economic questions for South Africa

WWF-SA has just recently published a report on the economic viability of shale gas fracking in South Africa. The report investigates the key economic drivers of fracking including the technological and market aspects of the entire process. Using these drivers WWF-SA has developed a framework for decision making in the fracking industry.

What will eThekwini look like in 2040?

Using computer modelling software, SEA explored different energy development paths for eThekwini municipality. After a grueling data collection exercise, several scenarios were investigated. These scenarios used a combination of energy efficiency and energy supply options taking into consideration essential economic, social and environmental factors. The research shows which paths should be followed to reach a sustainable future.

Hot off the press - State of Energy in South African Cities, 2015

This report produced by the City Energy Support Unit of Sustainable Energy Africa provides an update on the 2006 report. It attempts to contribute to the body of work detailing and documenting city work and the policy arena relating to energy development.

State of Energy in South African Cities 2015 report shows that SA cities could be on a low carbon trajectory

The 2015 State of Energy in Cities report completed by Sustainable Energy Africa, tracks energy consumption and carbon emissions for the country's highest energy-consuming municipalities over the past decade. The report, which includes comprehensive datasets for 18 of these municipalities, shows that metros in particular, are embracing sustainable energy practices and that there is a clear positive shift in energy profiles.

From poo to electricity - how much can SA wastewater plants produce?

SALGA and SAGEN have developed a tool to assist municipalities in determining the biogas potential from their wastewater treatment plants. The tool is designed to provide high-level results that will allow a municipality to decide if this technology should be pursued.

Demystifying household energy use in Polokwane

SAMSET has recently completed a household energy survey in Polokwane to assist the municipality in implementing its Energy and Climate Change Strategy. The results of this survey show that while electrification and multiple fuel uses remain a challenge, there is huge potential for energy savings through fuel switching, efficiency measures as well as improved urban form. Read the report here.

Going beyond basic energy access - How can local government empower communities

The UNDP has produced guidelines to assist national and local governments in creating sustainable communities by focusing on both energy and non-energy strategies that work in concert with each other. The EnergyPlus guidelines aim to ensure productive uses of modern energy thereby reducing energy poverty and cultivating self-sufficient thriving societies.

EThekwini launches a nifty web-based interactive tool to determine solar rooftop feasibility

Another first for eThekwini - As part of the Durban Solar City Framework to stimulate PV uptake, the Durban Solar Map allows residents to calculate the financial viability of a PV installation on their roof.

New project fosters climate change policy alignment amongst all spheres of government

adelphi, SEA and OneWorld have partnered in a four-year project which aims to strengthen vertical coordination relating to low-emission development amongst national, provincial and local government. The project aims to stimulate learnings and knowledge transfer between the spheres of government. It intends to strengthen the implementing capacities of local government in order to meet national climate change targets and priorities. Read about the key activities here.

USAID is partnering with the government of South Africa

to provide support to the government's green growth agenda. The Program is designed with a focus on strengthening public sector-related development planning and project development capabilities for low-emissions development.


SAMSET Africities 2015 Summit OPEN SESSION: Sustainable Energy in Urban Africa - the role of local government

SAMSET (Supporting Sub-Saharan Municipalities with Sustainable Energy Transitions) invites you to attend an Africities open session on the 30th of November at Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg from 15:00 - 18:00.

Lessons learnt - how can municipalities diversify their energy mix?

SALGA, GIZ and SEA have developed a series of six case studies on municipal renewable energy projects. These case studies identify the processes followed focusing on regulatory processes, and the success factors of each project.

How do households in Cape Town use energy?

SAMSET undertook a survey of energy use in high, mid and low income households in Cape Town.

Realising low carbon energy transitions

WWF-SA shows how a renewable energy mix of up to 20% can be materialised by 2030 through a series of reports which tackles the techno-economic aspects, socio-economics, small enterprise development and the industrialisation of CSP.

Mitigating climate change in the Western Cape

In response to the national Mitigation Potential Analysis, the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs has developed scenarios to determine the mitigation potential within the province. The study also identifies the role of municipalities in emissions reductions.

Showcasing low emission development solutions

ICLEI have recently completed the design and implementation of six showcase community projects around the country demonstrating that resource efficiency and sustainability is relevant and beneficial to people across the socio-economic spectrum.