3rd Workshop on The Energy Transition – some take aways

Guest blog by Prof Jenny M Jones, Leeds University

We’ve had an interesting morning of talks at the ICSC’s 3rd Energy Transition Workshop in Cape Town in the “Policies and Realities session”.

The global GHG emission stock-take prior to COP28 demonstrated a poor performance in delivery of NDCs required to keep us on track to the 1.5oC target which, to all intents and purposes, has now been missed. COP28 itself finally delivered some careful wording about transitioning away from fossil fuels and phasing out unabated coal use, and specifically mentioned CCS for the first time since the Paris Agreement. The Just Energy Transition Plan seems to have become quite “un-just”, at least in the South Africa context, with many awards delivered as loans with commercial pay back rates.

South Africa’s electricity generation will be dominated by coal for many more years, as security and availability of supply as well as affordability are at the forefront of implementation of policies to drive any change in reducing carbon intensity. Renewable capacity is expanding hand in hand with new coal plant coming on-line. We heard about problems faced by Germany after the decision to close their nuclear power stations a few years ago, coupled with the crisis resulting from the sanctions on the supply of gas from Russia after their invasion of Ukraine. Consequently, coal use expanded, and new strategies were implemented to source gas from the USA and begin a gradual phase out of coal to reach their net-zero targets.

For me, the morning highlighted the gulf between the developed and developing countries and the complexity of managing GHG emissions while trying to tackle energy security alongside poverty and energy poverty in the population.