Managing a transition to green energy sources: The perspectives of energy practitioners in the Southern African Development Community region.

Managing a transition to green energy sources:
The perspectives of energy practitioners in the Southern
African Development Community region.

Justice Ramagoma*, Chris Adendorff
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Business School, 2nd Avenue Campus, Summerstrand, Port Elizabeth,
South Africa.

Abstract                                                 exponentially to a point of driving industries in
The Southern African Development Community               future. The study recommends that SADC countries
(SADC) region has low energy security, exacerbat-        prioritise mapping of green energy resources to
ed by electricity power cuts and load-shedding in        facilitate the selection of suitable green energy
almost all its member states. Green energy has the       options in order to meet local energy needs and
potential to contribute to the shortfall in the supply   environmental protection. Research and develop-
of energy required on the grid network during daily      ment of suitable green energy storage technologies
(morning and evening) and seasonal (winter) peak         to overcome intermittency of some green energy
periods. The Statistica 12 program was used to           sources must be expedited in the region.
analyse and compare responses between identified
groups in the SADC region’s Energy sector.               Keywords: green energy, energy security, green-
Multivariate analysis of variance and analysis of        house gases, energy storage, peaking power, envi-
variance were used to examine associations               ronmental pollution
between variables within the identified categories of
respondents, and conclusions were made about six
hypotheses. The categories of respondents sampled
included: people associated with fossil fuel and
renewable energy; people with experience of 1-6
years and more than 6 years; researchers and
industry practitioners; practitioners based in South
Africa and in other SADC countries; and a category
based on practitioners’ positions (junior managers,
middle managers, and senior managers) in their
respective organisations.
The study found that energy practitioners generally
support a transition to green energy sources and
there is consensus that the uptake of green energy
will be slow initially, driven by low costs of fossil-
based sources, but the uptake will eventually grow

                               Journal of Energy in Southern Africa 27(4): 77–90

* Corresponding author: Tel: * +27 (0)13 296 3013

                  77 Journal of Energy in Southern Africa • Vol 27 No 34 • November 2016
1. Energy poverty and low-carbon energy                    resulted in climate change that has caused devasta-
solutions                                                  tion to ecosystems and sustainable social and eco-
Green energy obtained through the use of low-car-          nomic development in many parts of the world,
bon energy solutions is acknowledged as a solution         especially in developing countries (Arent et al.,
to energy poverty and climate change around the            2011; Lau et al., 2012). Greening the Energy sector
world (UNEP, 2011). The transformative potential           can contribute substantially to addressing global
of green energy on socio-economic development              warming challenges and energy poverty.
and mitigation of environmental pollution could
change the well-being and quality of life for citizens     1.2 Historical green energy initiatives
of the Southern African Development Community              Recognising the imperatives of access to green
(SADC). Nezhad (2009) identified the driving forces        energy is not a new concept in Africa. In 1981,
that will shape the future of global energy as eco-        Africa hosted the first international conference on
nomic growth rate, growth rate of energy consump-          new and renewable sources of energy in Nairobi.
tion, investment requirements, demographic                 The conference acknowledged the realities facing
changes, carbon dioxide emissions, technology              Africa in terms of access to modern energy and the
development and innovation, global energy intensi-         unprecedented, high prices of petroleum energy
ty, oil prices, and development of alternative energy      (Kammen & Kirubi, 2008). Africa, like other world
sources.                                                   regions, embraced the strong optimism and vision
                                                           for making a transition to renewable energy
1.1 Greenhouse gases and climate change                    sources. Although important initiatives have since
The World Energy Council (2012) projected that,            been taken, notably in biomass and solar energy,
by 2035, approximately 60% of electricity will be          the promise of renewable energy in Africa remains
generated from fossil-fuel sources, with 40% com-          largely unmet (Kammen & Kirubi, 2008).
ing from carbon-free sources, and that fossil fuel will        Current energy-generation assets are ageing,
continue to play a dominant role for the following         which leads to decreasing efficiency, increasing
two to three decades. Africa possesses immense             maintenance cost, and unexpected outages. The
energy potential in the form of renewable energy           frequent power outages have resulted in the
sources, even though its energy consumption in             increasing use of emergency power, using liquid
general is low and electricity consumption is only         fuels, which are expensive (KPMG, 2014). The
approximately 8% of the global total (Sanoh et al.,        recent approval by ministers of SADC for the estab-
2014). Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is the only region         lishment of the SADC Centre for Renewable Energy
in the world where the number of people living             and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE) as a subsidiary
without electricity is increasing, as rapid population     organisation is a positive development. Its main
growth is outpacing the many positive efforts to           objective is stated as being ‘to contribute towards
provide access (IEA, 2014).                                increased access to modern energy services and
    A number of studies have been conducted to             improved energy security across the SADC region
project different scenarios that will result from global   by promoting market-based uptake of renewable
warming. Marchal et al. (2011) listed some of the          energy and energy efficient technologies and ener-
regional impacts forecast by the Inter-                    gy services’ (SACREEE, 2013).
Governmental Panel on Climate Change to affect
Africa by 2020. It is projected that between 75 mil-       2. The theoretical rationale of the study
lion and 250 million people will be exposed to             The theoretical rationale of this study, shown in
increased water stress, yields from rain-fed agricul-      Figure 1, is premised on an increased demand for
ture could be reduced by up to 50% in some                 energy as a result of population growth leading to a
regions by 2020, and agricultural production,              need to meet energy requirements through the
including access to food, may be severely compro-          increased use of green energy as opposed to fossil-
mised. The release of both black carbon particles          fuel sources. The rationale postulates that increas-
and other forms of air pollution, e.g., sulphur and        ing access to energy services through green energy
nitrogen oxides, photochemical smog precursors             will lead to widespread access to modern energy
and heavy metals, will also have a detrimental effect      services and an improved quality of life, as opposed
on public health (United Nations Environment               to the use of fossil fuels resulting in environmental
Programme (UNEP), 2011). There is, generally,              catastrophes in the long term.
consensus that global warming is an inevitable
result of anthropogenic emission of greenhouse             3. The research problem statement and the
gases that remain in the atmosphere like a blanket,        objective of the study
preventing the reflection of heat back into outer          The continued extensive use of fossil fuels is not
space (Arent et al., 2011). Consequently, the aver-        addressing energy poverty in Africa and it is likely to
age earth temperature has increased by 0.7 °C since        lead to environmental damage. Wustenhagen and
the pre-industrialisation period and this rise has         Menichetti (2012) argued that greenhouse gases

                    78 Journal of Energy in Southern Africa • Vol 27 No 4 • November 2016
Figure 1: The theoretical rationale of the study.

that result in global warming have the potential to       point that some are mature enough to serve as a
cause extensive devastation in the form of environ-       generation resource. For example, a photovoltaic
mental catastrophes in the future if action is not        (PV) battery energy storage system can potentially
taken to reduce them. Against this background, the        solve this problem by storing electrical energy when
research problem is that the continued dependence         demand is low and supply stored energy when the
on fossil fuel energy sources will not address energy     demand is high. Energy storage system (ESS) and
poverty in the SADC region; on the contrary, it will      hybrid energy storage system (HESS) are some of
have an adverse impact on human health and also           the available options available for use with PV (Cho
increase environmental pollution. This study aims         & Kleit, 2015).
to establish whether there are significant differences
of views amongst energy practitioners with regard         5. Increasing capacity for energy generation
to a transition to green energy in the SADC region.       in the SADC region
                                                          Power shortages have affected most countries in
4. Green energy battery storage                           varying degrees. According to the Development
The need for access to green energy is most evident       Bank of South Africa (DBSA) (2014), the main rea-
in rural areas. Energy generated by renewable             sons for the diminishing generation capacity in the
sources for remote rural areas has many advantages        SADC region are:
over conventional supplies, but a negative aspect of      • an increase in electricity demand; unexpected
green energy sources is that some are intermittent.           high industrial growth;
This problem can be addressed by investing in bat-        • economic expansion;
tery storage (Ma et al., 2015). To regularise an inter-   • high growth in population;
mittent renewable energy output, Ma et al. (2015)         • uneconomic tariffs that do not support the capi-
advocated for the adoption of an appropriate ener-            tal and operational cost for investment in power
gy storage component as the solution, with high               generation; and
specific power and high specific energy over peri-        • lack of capital injection into new generation pro-
ods of minutes or hours. Solomon et al. (2014)                jects by both the public and private sectors.
argued that the existing grid in developing countries
is not yet configured to accommodate very large,             Earth offers many options to exploit sources of
variable, renewable energy systems, and that bulk         green energy, including wind (offshore and
distribution will most likely require the ability to      onshore), marine (wave, ocean thermal energy con-
enhance the use of energy from the variable tech-         version, tidal), biomass (biogas, dung, ethanol,
nologies. Cho and Kleit (2015) observed that bat-         gasifiers, crop residue and fuel wood), hydro
tery storage technologies have developed to the           (pump-dam storage, run-of-river, pump storage),

                  79 Journal of Energy in Southern Africa • Vol 27 No 34 • November 2016
Figure 2: Global green energy options (adapted from Kathirvel and Porkumaran, 2011).

geothermal and solar (PV and concentrating solar          5.2 Hydro-electrical power potential
power) as shown in Figure 2. Insufficient mapping         Large-scale hydro is the most inexpensive, efficient
of renewable energy resources is, however, another        and affordable form of renewable energy with vast
challenge that must be addressed urgently. There is       potential still to be developed in Africa, where there
still a need for regional resource maps that could be     is only 7% development and which is the lowest
useful in assessing potential for regional projects       rate of the world’s regions (WEC, 2013b). Africa
(SACREEE, 2013).                                          has a considerable natural advantage in hydro
     Barry et al. (2011) observed that the selection of   power because of extensive, high-altitude areas on
low-carbon energy technology must be based on             which the water vapour gathered over the Atlantic
research in order to achieve the priorities of the        precipitates. The run-off from this rainfall into the
local population, as well as governmental social and      Congo, Niger and Zambezi rivers could support sev-
environmental targets, thereby sustaining the sector.     eral mega-dams, significant projects on the upper
As part of the short-term measures, a number of           Nile in Ethiopia and Uganda; and numerous small-
rehabilitation and generation projects are being          er schemes (Collier and Venables, 2012). Political
undertaken to address the generation supply gap,          obstacles hinder the development of hydro electri-
whereby up to 17000 MW was planned between                cal energy in the central parts of Africa. The most
2013 and 2016 (Southern African Power Pool                notable examples of political obstacles are tribal
(SAPP), 2013). The SAPP (2014) revealed that the          conflicts and rebellions from political formations in
region will have sufficient generation capacity after     the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC),
2017 if all the planned projects were commissioned        which resulted in weak investments for decades in
and energy adequacy achieved in 2018. The gener-          the Grand Inga hydro-electric project on the Congo
ation reserve margin will reach 12.6% in 2016,            River (Sebitosi and Okou, 2010; Collier and
17.2% in 2017, and 23.8% in 2018 (SAPP, 2014).            Venables, 2012).

5.1 Biomass energy potential                              5.2.1. The Grand Inga project
Biomass is and will remain SSA’s dominant source          Kammen and Kirubi (2008) argued that the DRC
of energy for a foreseeable future. Owen et al.           can potentially be a huge exporter of electricity. It
(2013) argued that, in order to realise the full poten-   could be a net exporter almost four times larger
tial of biomass energy for poverty alleviation and        than its domestic consumption and continue to sup-
the creation of employment and business opportu-          ply hydro power through Namibia, Botswana,
nities, prevailing informal production and distribu-      Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Lesotho. The Congo
tion of solid biomass must be replaced with eco-          River is currently the world’s second largest in terms
nomically viable and socially equitable arrange-          of its flow (Odhiambo, 2010; WEC, 2013a). The
ments in a more modern and organised fashion.             first site development studies done in the 1960s rec-

                   80 Journal of Energy in Southern Africa • Vol 27 No 4 • November 2016
ommended a construction of four hydro-electric              ernmental organisations. The country, however,
power stations in two phases (International                 plans to add nuclear capacity in 2023, perhaps
Development, 2008). Only a fraction of the poten-           hoping that the option will be more acceptable
tial hydro-electric power was, however, developed           then.
in the DRC largely because of the political uncer-
tainties that have ravaged the country and scared           6. Research methodology
potential investors over the years. Odhiambo                A survey questionnaire with 72 questions linked to
(2010) observed that, in 2003, the DRC had a total          a 7-point Likert scale of responses was sent to
generating capacity of about 2568 MW, but only              respondents to test their support for green energy
produced 600-700 MW because two-thirds of the               sources and to determine if there were significant
turbines were dysfunctional.                                differences in support for alternative sources of
                                                            green energy identified in the questionnaire,
5.3. Solar energy potential                                 amongst energy practitioners in the SADC region. A
One of the most promising green energy technolo-            total of 301 responses were received. The composi-
gies for Africa is solar power. It suits Africa’s natural   tion of the sample population for the study included
endowment of strong sunlight distributed evenly             energy practitioners from both fossil-fuel and
throughout the year. Solar energy sources have the          renewable Energy sectors and comprised respon-
potential to improve access to modern energy                dents from energy ministries in the SADC region,
through PV and CSP because PV technology is                 non-governmental institutions, private companies;
ideal for decentralisation and dispersion to rural          energy researchers; academics; and energy special-
households of developing countries and, in the long         ists. Respondents were categorised as follows:
term, a cheaper option than conventional, grid-             • those associated with fossil-fuel and renewable
based electricity (Collier and Venables, 2012;                  energy;
Shukla et al., 2010; Otiti and Soboyebo, 2006).             • those with experience of 1-6 years and more
Many national, renewable and rural energy strate-               than 6 years;
gies must, consequently, give priority to the dissem-       • researchers and industry practitioners;
ination of PV.                                              • practitioners based in South Africa and other
                                                                SADC countries; and
5.4 Wind energy potential                                   • junior, middle, and senior managers.
Wind energy is an attractive option for countries
with an abundance of wind, particularly the coastal             Different research designs fall into two categories
areas in the SADC region, as it can be installed            that might be more or less appropriate in different
quickly in areas where electricity is needed urgently,      situations, being probability sampling and non-
in many instances, it can be a cost-effective solution      probability sampling (Leedy and Ormrod, 2005).
if fossil fuel sources were expensive or not readily        Quota sampling, which is a non-probability sam-
available (Milborrow, 2011; Sartipipour, 2011). In          pling technique, was employed for this study. This
addition, there are many applications for wind ener-        method of sampling selects respondents randomly
gy in remote regions. It can transform access to            in the same proportion that they are found in the
energy to supply farms, homes, and other installa-          general population (Leedy and Ormrod, 2005).
tions on an individual basis (Milborrow, 2011).             The largest quota of respondents was obtained from
Wind generation of electricity is, however, hindered        South Africa. In Africa, the largest percentage of
by a lack of manufacturing industries in developing         electricity generated from fossil fuel is generated in
countries, skills and spare parts, which should be          South Africa. The country has the most advanced
addressed urgently (IEA, 2012).                             power market in Africa and is sometimes referred to
                                                            as ’the powerhouse of Africa’ (KPMG, 2014).
5.5 Non-green energy (nuclear energy)                       Eskom, a parastatal responsible for the supply of
potential                                                   electricity in South Africa, is estimated to generate
The regional infrastructure development Master              about two-thirds of the total output of electricity for
Plan (2012) concluded that nuclear power is con-            SSA and 80% of the total southern African output
sidered to be an important source in the mix of             (KPMG, 2014).
global electricity generation. It is viewed as a solu-
tion to climate change, but recent disasters and the        7. Interpretation of results and discussion
constant fear of managing nuclear waste prevents it         Leedy and Ormrod (2005) observed that, in the
from being a popular solution. In the SADC region,          analysis of quantitative research, data characteris-
the share of nuclear power is 1.6% and is only              tics are reduced to variables analysed with multi-
found in South Africa, the country was reluctant to         variate and univariate statistical data analysis tech-
implement further nuclear power stations using its          niques. Multivariate Anova (MANOVA) and
pebble bed technology (RIDMP, 2012). There is               Univariate (ANOVA) statistics were employed to
strong opposition from the community of non-gov-            determine whether sufficient evidence existed to

                   81 Journal of Energy in Southern Africa • Vol 27 No 34 • November 2016
Table 1: Multivariate ANOVA statistics -
make conclusions about the six hypotheses of the
                                                                                   variables A to L.
study. These hypotheses related to the differences in
opinions between categories of respondents. A                      Effect                        F        D.F.         p
series of MANOVA analyses were conducted to test                   Intercept                 802.93     12; 232    6 years), Energy                     analysis for the independent variable B (economic
sector (fossil fuel/renewable energy) and the role of              augmentation from green energy) indicates that
the energy practitioner (researchers/industry).                    there was a significant difference between responses
MANOVA analysis results indicating significant dif-                in terms of the region and positions of respondents
ferences of the results are highlighted in bold font.              (Senior management/Middle management/Junior
Table 1 shows the MANOVA statistics for variables                  management). The post-hoc results of Middle man-
A to L.                                                            agement/Junior management give p = 0.004.
                                                                   Univariate ANOVA results C and post-hoc results C
7.2 The ANOVA results of variable A – L                            are shown in Table 4.
Tables with ANOVA analysis results indicating sig-                     The ANOVA results represent a significant differ-
nificant differences of the results are highlighted in             ence in responses to the independent variable C
bold font. The ANOVA results A and post-hoc                        (mitigation of environmental pollution) in terms of
results A are shown in Table 2.                                    position and region. Post-hoc results yield p =
    The ANOVAs that were conducted on factors                      0.036 for the differences based on the region; p =
individually revealed that there was a significant dif-            0.001 for Senior management/Junior management

                            Table 2: Univariate ANOVA results A and post-hoc results A.
                                              Univariate ANOVA results – A
                           Effect                 F-value                   D.F.            p
                           Intercept              1380.534              1; 249
Table 3: Univariate ANOVA results B and post-hoc results B.
                                              Univariate ANOVA results – B
                           Effect                 F-value              D.F.             p
                           Intercept              2371.092            1; 249
Table 5: Univariate ANOVA result D and post-hoc results D.
                                              Univariate ANOVA results – D
                           Effect                 F-value              D.F.              p
                           Intercept              1637.435             1; 249
Table 7: Univariate ANOVA results F and post-hoc results F.
                                              Univariate ANOVA results – F
                           Effect                 F-value               D.F.             p
                           Intercept              1391.993             1; 249
Table 9: Univariate ANOVA results H and post-hoc results H.
                                              Univariate ANOVA results – H
                           Effect                 F-value               D.F.             p
                           Intercept              373.3094             1; 249
Table 11: Univariate ANOVA results J and post-hoc results J.
                                              Univariate ANOVA Results – J
                           Effect                 F-value               D.F.             p
                           Intercept              1432.773             1; 249
Table 13: Univariate ANOVA results L and post-hoc results L.
                                              Univariate ANOVA results – L
                           Effect                 F-value              D.F.              p
                           Intercept              1448.886            1; 249           6 years); (fossil fuel and
renewable energy); (researchers and industry practitioners); (South Africa and other SADC
countries) and (senior manager, middle manager and junior manager).                                       Rejected

    The significant positive support of South                          Access to modern energy for rural communities
Africans for green energy as shown by the results                 could be a catalyst for economic development to
can be explained by evidence that indicate the                    dismantle the frontier of poverty that confronts both
country’s current upsurge in investment into green                urban and rural citizens in the SADC region. In
energy. Senior managers in the whole region are                   order to enhance the energy situation adequately in
also more optimistic about the transition compared                the SADC region, energy demand and supply con-
to respondents in the middle and junior positions.                straints must be identified with specific programmes
The study found that energy practitioners in SADC                 that are oriented towards rural and urban commu-
region generally support a transition to green ener-              nities separately. At a national level, clear targets
gy sources and there is consensus that the uptake of              must be defined for green energy penetration into
green energy will be slow initially, driven by low                the energy market. Interaction between public and
costs of fossil-based sources, but the uptake will                private sector is imperative in order to identify
eventually grow and contribute to the mitigation of               viable sources of green energy that must be priori-
greenhouse gases and global warming challenges.                   tised in a specific locality in the SADC region.

                        88 Journal of Energy in Southern Africa • Vol 27 No 4 • November 2016
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