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Tobias Bischof-Niemz

Tobias Bischof-Niemz

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

How much gas is needed to support power system that is led by renewables?

By: Tobias Bischof-Niemz     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 bricks, akin to coal or nuclear in the power sector. To hold the wall together, expensive cement... 

Why should South Africa champion electric vehicles?

By: Tobias Bischof-Niemz     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 (ICE). The Automotive Production and Development Programme, which incentivises the assembly of ICEs... 

Why should South Africa champion  electric vehicles?

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

By: Tobias Bischof-Niemz     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 Africa. Such a plan will outline what investments need to be made in the electricity sector. The... 

How should SA approach the procurement of  least-cost power?
Photo by Dr Tobias Bischof-Niemz
ENERGY & CAPACITY Today there are two different asset classes delivering two distinctly different services: kilowatt-hours and kilowatts

How could South Africa depoliticise its electricity planning process?

By: Tobias Bischof-Niemz     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 years to update the initial IRP 2010, despite the fact that the document lost relevance almost from... 

How could South Africa depoliticise its electricity planning process?
Photo by Creamer Media
Dr Tobias Bischof-Niemz

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

By: Tobias Bischof-Niemz     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 increasingly realistic proposition for factories, shopping malls and high-income households. I also outlined... 

How can embedded generators help close SA’s power supply gap?

By: Tobias Bischof-Niemz     19th 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 precipitous decline in the energy availability factor (EAF) of Eskom’s coal fleet and the underinvestment in... 

How can embedded  generators help close  SA’s power supply gap?
LOAD PROFILE: The household load does not match the solar system’s daytime production profile

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

By: Tobias Bischof-Niemz     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 buying electricity at R2.22/kWh from renewable-energy independent power producers (REIPPs) and that... 

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

By: Tobias Bischof-Niemz     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 to domestic and foreign investors both informally and through the inaugural Investment Conference,... 

If investment is the  goal, what should SA’s electricity game plan be?
LEAST-COST ADVANTAGES: No environmental benefits in deviating from South Africa least-cost electricity scenario

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

By: Tobias Bischof-Niemz     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 coal fleet (see the Transition Talk column in the February 22-28 edition of Engineering News). This... 

If there are more jobs  in renewables, why are coal miners so unhappy?
Photo by ENERTRAG
The net benefits of a least-cost mix of solar PV, wind and flexibility should be directed towards policies that support coal workers

Are there really more jobs in coal than in renewables?

By: Tobias Bischof-Niemz     22nd 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 coal mines. The opposition to renewables is underpinned partly by the notion that there are more... 

Will unbundling Eskom ensure a sustainable electricity system?

By: Tobias Bischof-Niemz     8th February 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 what form this restructuring should take. For sure, the generation assets need to be separated from... 

Will unbundling Eskom ensure a sustainable  electricity system?
Photo by Dylan Slater
Dr Tobias Bischof-Niemz
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