CSIR Energy Centre

The CSIR’s research in energy aims to help the country achieve an energy-secure and low-carbon national economy. The CSIR Energy Centre plays a central role in shaping and implementing the organisation’s energy research agenda.

The centre provides a knowledge base for the South African energy transition – the move towards a more sustainable and cleaner energy system in which energy is used more efficiently and primary energy is supplied by a significant share from renewable sources. The centre also leverages the learning from this energy transition to support the creation of sustainable energy systems for other African countries.

The centre provides thought leadership in energy research for the country and region in order to inform business decisions, investments into new technologies, and policymaking. Its activities are guided by the desire to help develop a sustainable energy system.

The five research priorities of the centre focus on challenges associated with a large uptake of fluctuating renewables from the supply side, and the need for more efficient use of energy from the demand side. They are: energy efficiency and demand forecasting, renewable energies, energy-system technologies, energy-system planning and operation and energy markets and policy.

Research undertaken by the CSIR Energy Centre

Studying the benefits of renewable energy from a cost perspective

The centre has undertaken studies to determine the benefits of renewable energy from South Africa’s first wind and solar (photovoltaic) projects. In the first part of the study, covering 2014, researchers found that renewable energy from wind and solar projects created R0.8 billion more financial benefits to the country than they cost during 2014.

Fuel saver study

Response to questions around the CSIR methodology to quantify the fuel-saver effect of new power generators in the South African power system.

Wind-solar aggregation study 2015

The CSIR did a study to quantify the combined effect of wind and solar energy resources in South Africa. The organisation found that the potential to produce electricity from wind turbines in South Africa is significantly greater and more widely spread than initially thought.

Real-time digital simulator

Real-time digital simulations help in the design of complex system by using a concept called model-based design. It utilises models to design the actual system, and system behaviour is analysed in real-time as part of the design process. The software models are also linked with hardware using a concept called hardware-in-the-loop, and therefore actual hardware (wide area control and protection systems) can be designed and tested and proper settings/calibration done in a safe laboratory environment. The real-time digital simulator is also used to perform real-time transient stability behaviour of a power system.

An energy-autonomous CSIR campus

The CSIR Energy Centre is showcasing in real-world, and on a significant size, how future energy systems based on renewables will be designed and operated. To date, two hectares of land covered in single-axis 558kW ground-mounted photovoltaic (PV) solar power plant, and 203kW dual-axis tracking solar PV plant have been constructed on the CSIR Pretoria campus. Furthermore, a 250kW-rooftop PV system is under construction.

IRP 2016 analyses

  • Comparison of IRP cost assumptions with IPP tariffs
  • CSIR Input to IRP 2016 Public Consultation submitted to DoE on 31 March 2017

Draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2018

General Contact

Contact Person

Dr Clinton Carter-Brown

+27 (0)12 841 3609


Contact Person

Aubrey Matsila

+27 (0) 12 841 2834

Competence Areas

Energy demand

Forecasting energy demand to determine supply measures.

Energy supply

Research on renewables-based energy systems including resource assessment, forecasting, technologies and systems.

Energy storage

Research into energy storage options, including batteries, hydrogen and heat.

Energy systems

Ensuring that energy systems is analysed and optimised from a systems perspective.

Energy market and policy

Research in this field focuses on energy economics, regulations, energy policymaking and energy market design.

Energy industry

Facilitating strategic dialogue on industrialisation in the energy sector in South Africa.

Energy autonomous campus

Energy Autonomous Campus will be supplied with energy from three primary energy sources: solar, wind and biogas from biogenic waste.