A group of scientists have provided what they see as evidence that South Africa can fulfill all its energy requirements completely from renewable energy sources. The scientists and researchers from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Lappeenranta University of Technology, Delft University of Technology and Aalborg University have reported that they have analyzed hundreds of studies from across the scientific literature to demonstrate that there are no roadblocks on the way to a 100% renewable future for South
The scientists were responding to a review paper published in 2028 in the journal Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews in which Benjamin Heard and colleagues presented their case against 100% renewable electricity systems.
“While several of the issues raised by the Heard paper are important, you have to realise that there are technical solutions to all the points they raised, using today’s technology," said
Dr. Tom Brown of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.
Brown's colleague, Professor Christian Breyer of Lappeenranta University of Technology, added that renewable energy solutions are "affordable, especially given the sinking costs of wind and solar power.
Brown cites the worst-case solution of hydrogen or synthetic gas produced with renewable electricity for times when imports, hydroelectricity, batteries, and other storage fail to bridge the gap during low wind and solar periods during dark European winters. Luckily, this is a problem that a country like South Africa with very little seasonality in solar supply does not need to worry about too much. More importantly, the stability of the grid poses specific challenges in South Africa with existing low-levels of interconnectivity with neighbours. For maintaining stability there is a series of technical solutions, from rotating grid stabilisers to newer electronics-based solutions. The scientists have collected examples of best practice by grid operators from across the world, from Denmark to Tasmania.
In their paper, Heard and colleagues doubted the feasibility of many of the recent scenarios for high shares of renewable energy, questioning everything from whether renewables-based systems can survive extreme weather events with low sun and low wind, to the ability to keep the grid stable with so much variable generation.