Research/academic paper

Energy Security in South Africa

This paper begins by addressing the concept of energy security and its complexity, advocating for a broad conceptualisation of energy security based on the World Energy Council’s tenets of accessibility, availability and acceptability. The Department of Minerals and Energy’s focus on “ensuring that diverse energy resources, in sustainable quantities and at affordable prices, are available to the South African economy in support of economic growth and poverty alleviation, taking into account environmental management requirements and interactions among economic sectors”. As the national energy system is complex, a multi-disciplinary approach is needed to analyse its resilience and to address challenges to its integrity. A crisis in energy security is thus difficult to diagnose and remedy, but the importance of informed, decisive and timely action cannot be overstated due to the centrality of the energy system to the development and survival of the modern state. Further, the path dependency of energy system policies and investments make a multidisciplinary approach vital for informative policy research, especially if facing an energy security crisis, as this paper argues South Africa is. Having established a broad framework for the analysis of energy security, the paper turns to the analysis of South Africa’s energy security situation. We argue that South Africa is facing a crisis in energy security, evidenced in the three most important sectors- electricity supply, liquid fuels production and coal supply (for electricity generation and end use).