Historically, South Africa has not faced energy shortages or high costs — at least as far as policy-makers were concerned. The Apartheid period suppressed demand from the disenfranchised black population, while public sector energy use and costs were not a factor in planning. Even recently, when government investment in facilities and services for the entire population has increased dramatically, very little consideration has been given to energy efficiency. This is partly a result of limited staff capacity, but also due to a surplus of low-cost electricity from coal-fired plants. As early as the 1980’s, the South African utility ESKOM started to look into Demand Side Management, but with few results to date. Now, the Department of Minerals and Energy (DME) has officially been charged with pursuing energy efficiency, and the government’s “White Paper on Energy Policy” has expanded the concept broadly. Additionally, the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) has taken up the idea of a public sector energy management program modeled on the U.S. Federal Energy Management Program. In light of the political reform in South Africa, the government is directing massive amounts of capital and resources to infrastructure development in areas and populations historically shut out by Apartheid. None of those funds or resources include any guidance on energy efficiency, even though large infrastructure projects may represent a 50 year commitment to energy consumption. This is of concern to ESKOM and others who have forecast a peak demand deficit as early as 2007, and a base load deficit soon after. DEAT expects to finalize the plan and implement the first phase in 2003.
The South African government has shown some success in promoting the purchase of energy-efficient office equipment, as documented by the International Institute for Energy Conservation document, "Energy Star Computers Showcase: The Department of Minerals and Energy Shows the Way." [Energy Star South Africa.pdf - 184 KB]
In addition, local governments working with ICLEI’s Cities for Climate Protection® (CCP) Campaign have achieved significant savings through energy efficiency retrofits in municipal buildings in South Africa. Download the 'case study' [Ekurhuleni EE Case Study 4_06.pdf - 500 KB] and a 'measures report' [SA EE Survey ICLEI CCP.pdf - 100 KB], generously funded by the PEPS program. The case study highlights the process and results from a model building energy efficiency retrofit project in Ekurhuleni, South Africa. The measures report profiles the Top 5 Energy Efficiency Measures Implemented in ICLEI’s CCP network in South Africa.