Conference PaperPDF Available

A mini-review of waste-to-energy consideration in Renewable Energy and Waste Management Policies in South Africa.


Abstract and Figures

South Africa is increasingly pursuing renewable energy sources such as solar and wind to address the gap between energy demand and supply. As this gap continues to expand, there is potential to include additional renewable resources such as waste, which is an underexploited resource. Waste-to-energy (WtE) schemes offer an opportunity to address energy related and waste management challenges, amongst others. Since South African local municipalities are mandated to collect and dispose of waste, this paper is a mini-review which aims to explore (1) the extent to which WtE schemes are currently included in various policies and (2) factors hindering local municipalities from adopting these schemes as an option to enhance current waste management options and address energy demand. A desktop study and review of literature regarding energy demand and supply, existing WtE schemes, and waste management practices in South Africa. This paper found that, while policies have acknowledged the need to pursue sustainable methods of energy generation, suitable WtE schemes for local municipalities and their impact on GHG emissions, only 10% of local municipalities in South Africa use WtE schemes. Factors such as capital investment, suitable technology, limited political will and institutional arrangements impede adoption. The paper recommends that more local municipalities begin exploring WtE scheme implementation by commissioning feasibility and viability studies on WtE schemes; expand research and development primarily at government level; include WtE schemes in regulatory frameworks such as the Spatial Development Framework and Integrated Waste Management Plans; identify, create and improve public-private-partnerships and concessions.
Content may be subject to copyright.
A preview of the PDF is not available
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
For 20 years or more the world has recognized that the way we do business has serious impacts on the world around us. Now it is increasingly clear that the state of the world around us affects the way we do business.
Rising concerns about global energy security and climate change due to emissions of noxious gases resulting from the combustion of fossil fuels have strongly renewed interest in renewable energy development. These concerns have also coordinated a reaction towards the global focus on a clean development mechanism, which is a basic strategy endorsed in the framework of the Kyoto Protocol. The use of biomass for the sustainable distributed generation of power offers immense hope to rural dwellers, who have limited access to electricity from centralized grid systems. Like other renewable sources of energy, biomass distributed-generation systems will play a critical role in the future of electrical power demand outlooks and energy generation planning. This article presents the wide-ranging potential of bioenergy resources in Nigeria for bioelectric power generation. It explicates the poor energy situation of the country and highlights different categories of biomass that can be exploited to tackle the energy deficiency in many rural communities. The study concludes with a discussion on the significance of distributed-generation electricity using bioenergy resources for rural energy supply, including brief discussions on the technologies for bioelectric power utilization.
IN TERMS of the balance between the energy and resources we consume and the waste we produce, the world is fast approaching a tipping point. A new generation of energy from waste technologies can help, as Rolf Stein explains
Renewable energy remains a contested topic in South Africa. This paper argues that South Africa can build on the momentum surrounding its introduction of a feed-in tariff by enacting policies that may, if given adequate funding and political effort, allow the country to be a world leader in renewable energy. Given a variety of renewable energy policy options for moving forward, a majority of stakeholders consulted in this study strongly prefer the development of a renewable energy manufacturing cluster, in which government develops coordinated policy mechanisms that attract renewable energy manufacturers, over three other policies suggested by the authors. Interviews with key informants that play critical roles in this decision-making process suggest that there are reasons to remain cautiously optimistic about the country's renewable energy future while cognizant of the challenges that must still be overcome. Opportunities for a low carbon renewable energy transition in South Africa include the prevalence of broad stakeholder consultation, facilitated by civil society, and an innovative policy development context. Significant impediments also exist, however, and include pervasive social issues such as poverty and political inertia, along with the ongoing difficulties facing renewable energy technologies in reaching grid parity with inexpensive and abundant South African coal.
Only few Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects (traditionally focussed on landfill gas combustion) have been registered in Africa if compared to similar developing countries. The waste hierarchy adopted by many African countries clearly shows that waste recycling and composting projects are generally the most sustainable. This paper undertakes a sustainability assessment for practical waste treatment and disposal scenarios for Africa and makes recommendations for consideration. The appraisal in this paper demonstrates that mechanical biological treatment of waste becomes more financially attractive if established through the CDM process. Waste will continue to be dumped in Africa with increasing greenhouse gas emissions produced, unless industrialised countries (Annex 1) fund carbon emission reduction schemes through a replacement to the Kyoto Protocol. Such a replacement should calculate all of the direct and indirect carbon emission savings and seek to promote public-private partnerships through a concerted support of the informal sector.
The need to mitigate the adverse environmental impacts of fossil fuel usage, the volatility of fuel prices and enhancement of national energy security, have largely driven a phenomenal growth, around the world, in renewable energy (RE) generation (particularly grid-connected), over the past two decades. The necessity to apply policy support instruments to promote the dissemination of these technologies is now a universally accepted norm. Different countries and societies depending on the prevailing socio-economic environment draft and apply their policy frameworks differently and debates abound as to which mechanisms should have been most suitable under which circumstance. Most of these debates, however, assume the existence of an intrinsic political environment in favour of the process. In South Africa the current political environment is not very conducive to the development of a sustainable RE industry. This paper explores some of the anomalies and barriers and suggests possible options for a way forward to a viable RE industry in the country.
This paper documents South Africa's electrification programme from the late 1980s to the present. The primary aim of the paper is to present the reader with an overview of the policy, institutional, planning, financing and technological developments and innovations that resulted in more than 5 million households receiving access to electricity between 1990 and 2007. Key aspects include the way in which a period of political change and policy disruption were essential to the programme's initiation, and the critical role played by organisations and individuals outside of national government in helping shape new electrification policies and strategies. In addition, the paper identifies the contribution of technology development in cost reduction and achieving the social aims of the programme. Several lessons may be drawn from the institutional and planning arrangements that the South African programme has developed, the significance of the development of appropriate cost-driven technical innovations and standards, and the acknowledgement of the social function of electrification and its funding from the fiscus (rather than through cross-subsidies).
Investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency is important to reduce the negative economic, social and environmental impacts of energy production and consumption in South Africa. Currently, renewable energy contributes relatively little to primary energy and even less to the consumption of commercial energy. This article examines policy options for promoting renewable electricity. Feed-in tariffs guarantee prices for developers, but lack certainty on the amount of renewable electricity such laws would deliver under local conditions. Portfolio standards set a fixed quantity, which would guarantee diversity of supply. The question is whether the incremental upfront cost to be paid by society may be unacceptably high, compared to future health and environmental benefits. A renewables obligation combines the setting of a target with a tendering process, but may be bureaucratic to administer. Neither setting targets or regulating prices alone, however, will be sufficient. Power purchase agreements, access to the grid and creating markets for green electricity are some supporting activities that should be considered. Given that renewable electricity technologies have to compete with relatively low electricity tariffs, funding will be needed. Possible sources, both locally and internationally, are identified. The extent to which these are utilised will determine the future mix of renewable energy in South Africa.