Friday, 11 April 2014

South Africa's 2050 Pathway Calculator

South Africa has developed a 2050 Pathways calculator. This is an interactive online tool that enables users to input levels of technological change in relation to energy demand and supply. The calculator plots demand and supply trajectories to 2050, as indicated in the graphs below. Projected carbon emissions are also show in MtCO2 eq/year.

Sankey diagrams are used to indicator energy flows. This is particularly effective at demonstrating how wasteful electricity generation is currently, with about 50% of electricity generated being lost, as indicated below.

The site works well and different scenarios can be easily and quickly tried. The criteria selected and level messages indicated by the tool however generate a number of questions.

For instance, it is sometimes not clear whether criteria refer to transport or to built environment changes. Setting out criteria under the conventional headings of ‘transport’, ‘built environment’ etc could help clarify this. The wording for levels could also be clearer and it would be useful to have an explanation on the basis and assumptions included in the calculator. For instance, it would be useful to have further clarity / detail on the following:
  • Efficiency Improvement; 'Lever level 1'
  •  Public Services; '25% energy reduction owing to reduced  leaks in water system'. 
  • New Building Code Strength; 'Buildings built after 2030 are 55% more efficient than today'
  • Accronyms; such as CHP, GTL,CCGT and CTL . 
The site also links to a UK version of the calculator where detailed assumptions are provided. It would have been useful to provide this information for the South African calculator and it will be important to include this if the calculator is to stimulate debate and is used as an input into policy. The calculator could also provide a valuable educational tool and as in the UK version, it would useful to link this to an ‘educational pack’ for schools.

South Africa’s 205 pathway calculator can be found at:

UK’s full Excel version of the tool can be downloaded from:


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