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Energy Research Centre

The CSIR’s Energy Centre provides fact-base expertise and essential research infrastructure to address South Africa’s growing energy needs, and maximise the associated industrialisation opportunities for new products and services.

The Energy Centre provides thought leadership, innovation and capacity building to address the two main energy imperatives of energy efficiency and cleaner energy. The centre responds directly to the challenges identified in the National Development Plan by providing unbiased decision support to solve the long-term sustainable energy needs of South Africa, while concurrently addressing issues such as carbon dioxide emissions, water use, uncertainty, localisation and regional development. 

The centre’s activities are guided by global trends, contextualised to local realities and focused on developing sustainable energy systems.

The activities can be summarised as follows:

  • Conduct directed research in emerging energy technologies and system integration;
  • Proof of concept of emerging energy technologies and systems;
  • Demonstrate energy technologies and systems in the South African context and support their local industrialisation and commercialisation;
  • Conduct directed research on how to optimally design, build and operate cost-efficient, reliable and sustainable energy systems;
  • Find optimal pathways for the expansion and operation of energy systems through modelling and simulation;
  • Provide policymakers with a scientifically based analysis of market design and regulatory concepts for the integration of new energy technologies;
  • Provide support for South African industries on key energy-system-related decisions, and identify and action opportunities for the industrialisation of new products and services; and
  • Provide thought leadership on the energy agenda in South Africa and the region.

            

The CSIR Energy Centre aims to be the first point of contact  for South African decision-makers on issues relating to the energy transition, business and science related issues. The energy transition is a move towards a more sustainable and cleaner energy system that will eventually result in more efficient energy use and a significant share of the primary energy supply being provided by renewables. The CSIR will leverage the learning from the South African energy transition to support the creation of sustainable energy systems for other African countries.     
                                           

Research groups: South Africa is well positioned to be  among those regional and global leaders who successfully transition to energy systems in which renewable electricity forms the primary energy carrier.

Investment in research and development initiatives that speak to technology innovation and industrialisation is paramount. Such initiatives include:

  • Researching and developing energy technology solutions along the energy value chain - for grid, transportation and stationary applications as used in commercial, industrial and residential sectors;
  • Creating integrated, cross-cutting teams by establishing national industrial/university/lab consortiums focused on energy storage and conversion systems;
  • Contributing to early adoption of hydrogen in niche applications (underground mining, public transportation), Power to X and carbon capture and utilisation.
  • Contributing to small-scale embedded generation and self-generation, growth in solar photovoltaic (PV) installation at the commercial and residential level;
  • Adding value to the South African economy through industrialisation, small business development, socio-economic development and addressing transformation challenges, over and above energy security;
  • Designing and operating smart energy system to optimise and manage the interplay between variable supply sources, demand and storage. Providing a demonstration platform for programmes such as Hydrogen South Africa on the CSIR Pretoria campus. Supporting the implementation of a sustainable, renewable energy based micro-grid;
  • Providing scientific and industrialisation support to the energy industry to improve competitiveness and market access opportunities; and
  • Developing energy storage technologies to support the increasing renewable energy sector and utilising the opportunity for the country to invest in developing the South African battery industry, which will, in turn, reduce the cost of battery cells and improve ease of accessibility of electricity in the African continent.
Dr Clinton Carter-Brown