The Costs of Adopting Technology Restrictions in South Africa (COSTASSESS)

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Part of the Programme: Innovation, Sustainable Growth and Technological Change

  • Project Lead: Timothy Swanson
  • Research Assistant: Pedro Guimaraes Naso
  • Partner : Mare Sarr, University of Cape Town
  • Timeline: January 2014 - April 2017
  • Keywords: Coal industry, South Africa, clean technology
  • Funding Organisation: SNF

 

Abstract:

This project assesses the costs for South Africa of restricting the use of low-cost and abundant coal technologies. In this context, a better understanding of the cost structure of the coal industry will help to clarify how state intervention can enable the diffusion of alternative clean technologies, and thereby move South Africa towards a green economy pathway.

The primary research objective is to determine the cost of restricting a particular technology and resource when the country imposing this restriction has heavily invested in the technology in question and is rich in the particular resource.

South Africa represents an interesting and important context within which to pursue this question. South Africa is heavily-endowed with low-cost coal, and it has relied entirely upon this endowment for both its own rapidly-growing energy requirements and as a major source of export earnings. While a restriction on the use of coal may be substantially mitigated by means of diffusion of alternative technologies, the availability and scalability of these technologies in the South-African context will need to be assessed. In addition, there are residual costs to a country such as South Africa that is well-endowed with the resource subject to the restricted technology.

Partners: University of Cape Town