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Dr Bischof-Niemz is one of the authors of a book titled 'South Africa’s Energy Transition', which offers a roadmap to a decarbonised, low-cost and job-rich energy future.

He was the founding head of the CSIR Energy Centre and previously worked for Eskom on the Integrated Resource Plan. He is currently CEO of ENERTRAG South Africa – tobias@bischof-niemz.de

By Tobias Bischof-Niemz

Opinion: Could Eskom be repurposed to become training ground for the energy transition?

Opinion: Could Eskom be repurposed to become training ground for the energy transition?

31st July 2020

One of the most common remedies proposed for addressing Eskom’s financial and operational problems is that of reducing jobs at the state-owned utility. The argument is premised on the view that... 


Opinion: Why should SA’s post-Covid-19 stimulus incorporate a big green-energy component?

Opinion: Why should SA’s post-Covid-19 stimulus incorporate a big green-energy component?

24th April 2020

Governments around the world are grappling with ways to reignite their economies and limit the duration of recessions precipitated by the response to the Covid-19 pandemic. South Africa is no... 


Opinion: Could coal miners be incentivised to support the transition to renewables?

Opinion: Could coal miners be incentivised to support the transition to renewables?

20th March 2020

Coal, which has been the workhorse of South Africa’s electricity system for generations, will continue to play a significant role for years to come. Those coal-fired power stations that remain in... 


Opinion: How can SA avoid high costs and great regret when procuring emergency power?

Opinion: How can SA avoid high costs and great regret when procuring emergency power?

7th February 2020

When released in October, the Integrated Resource Plan 2019 (IRP 2019) highlighted that South Africa would face an electricity capacity shortfall of between 2 000 and 3 000 Megawatts (MW) for the... 


Opinion: Is land a constraint to a renewables-led energy system in South Africa?

Opinion: Is land a constraint to a renewables-led energy system in South Africa?

24th January 2020

When the question arises as to what South Africa’s most abundant source of energy is, the usual answer is coal. South Africa has built almost its entire electricity system, as well as a good... 


GOOGLE PPA: A simplified representation of how the power purchase agreement could work

Opinion: Why is SA in sweet spot for global corporate-led decarbonisation projects?

6th December 2019

Several large multinationals, such as Google and Amazon, are actively procuring renewable energy as part of efforts to transition their operations away from fossil fuels. Typically, these companies... 


Opinion: Why do German households pay high electricity prices if renewables are cheap?

Opinion: Why do German households pay high electricity prices if renewables are cheap?

15th November 2019

Germany’s electricity generation in 2019 year-to-date has been almost 47% based on renewables, a significant increase from only 9% in 2002. The cost of new renewables, specifically solar... 


GREEN FUEL PATHWAY
Sasol could move from carbon hot spot to carbon sink

Opinion: Could South Africa be the Saudi Arabia of green aviation fuel?

25th October 2019

Until relatively recently, much of the world’s decarbonisation attention has been on the electricity sector. The focus was natural because, firstly, the sector is a large contributor to global... 


Opinion: Are renewable IPPs destroying Eskom?

Opinion: Are renewable IPPs destroying Eskom?

27th September 2019

The argument that the renewable-energy independent power producers (IPPs) are destroying Eskom financially is a gross misrepresentation. Fact is: the state-owned utility bought electricity form... 


Opinion: How could black SA ownership be increased in renewables projects?

Opinion: How could black SA ownership be increased in renewables projects?

23rd August 2019

The renewable-energy industry in South Africa is effectively at the very beginning of an S-curve. With 5% of South Africa’s electricity provided by renewables, the industry is nowhere near its... 


Opinion: How should SA’s gas infrastructure be configured for a  least-cost power system?

Opinion: How should SA’s gas infrastructure be configured for a least-cost power system?

8th August 2019

As outlined in the previous Transition Talk column (see Engineering News July 12–18, page 51), while gas will become more important in South Africa’s future electricity system, its role should not... 


Opinion: How much gas is needed to support a power system led by renewables?

Opinion: How much gas is needed to support a power system led by renewables?

12th July 2019

Imagine the planning of the electricity system as a builder who wants to build a sturdy wall at the lowest cost. In the old world, the cheapest way to construct such a wall was to use rectangular... 


Opinion: Why should South Africa champion  electric vehicles?

Opinion: Why should South Africa champion electric vehicles?

14th June 2019

South Africa’s industrial, transport, energy, trade and fiscal policies remain heavily geared towards the private automobile and, more specifically, ones powered by the internal combustion engine... 


ENERGY & CAPACITY Today there are two different asset classes delivering two distinctly different services: kilowatt-hours and kilowatts

Opinion: How should SA approach the procurement of least-cost power?

31st May 2019

In the previous Transition Talk column (Engineering News May 17-23, 2019), I explored what it would take to depoliticize the process of drafting a rational Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) for South... 


Dr Tobias Bischof-Niemz

Opinion: How could South Africa depoliticise its electricity planning process?

17th May 2019

As South Africans know all too well, the processes involved in drafting and approving an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) for electricity are emotive, opaque and highly political. It took nearly ten... 


SYSTEM SPIN-OFFS Encouraging low-income households to become electricity vendors could lead to a mass legalisation of illegal electricity connections

Opinion: Can low-income homes be made to benefit from the energy transition?

3rd May 2019

In the previous Transition Talk column, I covered how South Africa’s world-class solar resource, together with falling solar photovoltaic (PV) panel costs, has made rooftop generation an... 


LOAD PROFILE: The household load does not match the solar system’s daytime production profile

Opinion: How can embedded generators help close South Africa's power supply gap?

18th April 2019

There has been no increase in overall electricity demand since South Africans first began experiencing load-shedding back in 2008. Yet the threat of rotational cuts remains, because of the... 


Average tariffs of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers

Opinion: If renewables are so cheap, why are we paying so much for them?

5th April 2019

Hardly a week passes without a statement being made about the high costs of renewable energy in South Africa. Typically, the argument is made on social media and is framed to suggest that Eskom is... 


LEAST-COST ADVANTAGES: No environmental benefits in deviating from South Africa least-cost electricity scenario

Opinion: If investment is the goal, what should SA’s electricity game plan be?

22nd March 2019

South Africa has correctly identified the lack of investment as a serious constraint to economic growth and job creation. President Cyril Ramaphosa has moved to address the problem by reaching out... 


The net benefits of a least-cost mix of solar PV, wind and flexibility should be directed towards policies that support coal workers

Opinion: If there are more jobs in renewables, why are coal miners so unhappy?

8th March 2019

As outlined previously, an electricity system made up of solar photovoltaic (PV) plants, wind farms and flexible generators will employ at least 30% more people than a comparable energy-equivalent... 


More jobs in renewables than coal to meet a theoretical 100 TWh yearly energy output profile

Opinion: Are there really more jobs in coal than in renewables?

12th February 2019

There is considerable support in South Africa for the notion that a transition in the electricity system from coal to renewable energy will trigger a jobs bloodbath at both Eskom and the Mpumalanga... 


Dr Tobias Bischof-Niemz

Opinion: Will unbundling Eskom ensure a sustainable electricity system?

30th January 2019

That Eskom needs to be restructured is no longer in question. In its current form, the organisation poses a systemic risk to the South African economy and is ‘too big to fail’. The real question is... 


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