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Journal of Energy in Southern Africa

On-line version ISSN 2413-3051
Print version ISSN 1021-447X

J. energy South. Afr. vol.22 n.4 Cape Town  2011


What is the carbon emission factor for the South African electricity grid?



Randall Spalding-Fecher

Pöyry Management Consulting (Sweden) AB




One of the most important parameters for developing Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project proposals in the electricity sector (both supply and efficiency) is the standard electricity 'grid emission factor', which represents the carbon dioxide related to a megawatt hour of electricity supplied or saved on the grid. While there are detailed guidelines from the CDM Executive Board on how to calculate this emission factor, the values used in registered CDM projects in South Africa vary widely, both due to changes in the rules over time and also to misapplication of the rules. This paper shows how the application of the latest guidelines gives a 'combined margin emission factor' for South Africa of 0.957 tCO2/MWh in 2009/2010. The variation in emission factors in the literature, as well as the importance of reducing the transaction costs for South African project developers, points to the need for an official published grid emission factor from the CDM host country authority in South Africa, the Designated National Authority (DNA), within the Department of Energy.

Keywords: Clean Development Mechanism, electricity, grid emission factor, carbon emissions, mitigation



Full text available only in pdf format.



This paper draws from a variety of research projects funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Norwegian Embassy in Maputo, Mozambique. The useful inputs provided by Enoch Lerato Liphoto from Eskom were greatly appreciated, as were comments from Gabriella Larson, Francois Sammut and Alberto J Tsamba. Any errors are solely the responsibility of the author.



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Received 2 December 2010
Revised 11 October 2011

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