Energy systems

The CSIR’s energy systems group, situated in Pretoria, provides the scientific expertise necessary to address South Africa’s growing energy needs. The group 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 CO2 emissions, water use, short/medium- term energy security risks, sector coupling opportunities and the development of modelling frameworks. In recent years, an open modelling and open data approach is being intentionally pursued.

The CSIR energy systems research group  focuses on establishing future energy systems integrated by electric grids and other transportation networks with coupled end-use sectors (electricity-heat-transport). This is driven by the intentional electrification of end-use as a low-hanging fruit for the modernisation and decarbonisation of these energy sectors as clean electricity, driven by renewable energy and other low-carbon electricity technologies. Where direct electrification is not technically or economically feasible, the production, storage and transportation of hydrogen as an energy carrier for potential synthetic fuels production combined with biofuels , such as air and marine transportation and selected industrial processes, is also explored.

These future energy systems would be supplied via two main least-cost bulk energy technologies in South Africa, namely wind and solar photovoltaic (PV), as variable renewable energy sources.  As a result, the focus of the group also includes the integration of these variable renewable energy sources into the national grid at all voltage levels and scales, and utilising microgrids and smart grid technologies as key building blocks of the future energy system to improve resiliency or to use where the national grid is not suitable. The CSIR provides research to guide policy and technology development, while providing ambitious national pathways into achieving a net-zero energy system by 2050, with the supporting open data and open energy modelling frameworks to further support widespread capacity-building, knowledge dissemination and evidence-based policymaking or business decisions across government and enterprise.


  • Optimising energy supply and end-use technologies for a renewable energy transition
  • Developing energy transition plans and operations for a decarbonising energy system
  • Undertaking directed research towards the understanding of how to optimally design, build and operate cost-efficient, reliable and sustainable energy systems
  • Finding optimal pathways for the expansion and operation of energy systems through modelling and simulation
  • Providing policymakers with open, scientifically based analysis of market design and regulatory concepts for the integration of new energy technologies
  • Providing thought leadership for the energy research agenda in South Africa and in the region
  • Developing, disseminating and promoting open energy data and modelling practices, while simultaneously further developing functionality most applicable to South Africa and the African continent





Crescent Mushwana

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