Geothermal Energy in South Africa

South Africa has many mineral resources and some offshore hydrocarbon resources, but beneath the ground in a number of locations is clean, persistent renewable resource Geothermal Energy. Solar PV and Wind energy is good but intermittent, so either significant Energy Storage Systems are required or else some source of baseload energy. Right now it is coal and some gas, but the utility grid also is challenged. Hybrid microgrids with a mix of intermittent renewables supported by a baseload of economic, environmentally sustainable Geothermal Energy is a good option, especially for remote extractive industries and industrial plants.

  • South Africa has a fragment of the ancient Kaapvaal Craton underneath it which has restricted some crustal heat flows, but fortunately the surrounding mountainous Proterozoic orogenic belts with subduction zones have supported much higher heat flow through thinner crust;
  • The presence of over 87# hot springs are surface manifestations of accessible underground hydrothermal reservoirs in the Cape Fold Belt, across the Karoo, and in the Limpopo Belt;
  • Hot dry rock geological systems are accessible in granites south of Upington and in the Namaqualand region and in granites in Limpopo and the northern part of Kwazulu-Natal;
  • Clean, environmentally sustainable renewable Geothermal Energy is possible thanks to modern, low and medium enthalpy Binary ORC power generation solutions. Good geoscience tools are available to help incrementally explore and de-risk the areas of potentially suitable heat energy sources before more expensive drilling is required;
  • Very attractive Levelised Cost of Electricity (LCOE) is commercially feasible for many developments to help improve electrification, reduce energy poverty, and increase grid resilience across South Africa.
Ref. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/sajs.2014/20130282

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