Greenhouse gas emission factor for electricity in SA

Submitted by: Margaret McKenzie, Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The South African greenhouse gas (GHG) emission factor for electricity in 2011 is 0.99 kilograms of carbon dioxide per kilowatt hour.   This emission factor is supplied by Eskom in its 2011 Integrated Report and is calculated by Eskom for energy generated over the period 1st April 2010 to 31st March 2011.

Go to 2012 Electricity emission factor to read an article updated for 2012.  

GHG emission factors for electricity have remained relatively constant in South Africa over the last few years as shown in the table below:

 Year Emission Factor Source
2007/2008  1.00 kgs CO2/kWh  Eskom 2009 Annual Report
2008/2009  1.03 kgs CO2/kWh  Eskom 2009 Annual Report
2009/2010  1.03 kgs CO2/kWh  Eskom 2010 Integrated Report
2010/2011  0.99 kgs CO2/kWh  Eskom 2011 Integrated Report

Organisations wishing to calculate the GHG impact of their electricity use can use these emission factors to do the following simple calculation:  kWh * Emission Factor = COemitted.

For example:  1,000 kWh * 0.99 kgs CO2/kWh = 990 kgs CO2

The process of generating electricity in South Africa is GHG inefficient because of the high reliance on coal powered plants.    As a result, GHG emissions resulting from electricity generation in South Africa are generally higher than GHG emissions from electricity generation in other countries.

The change in emission factor in 2010/2011 is due to the fact that Eskom has decided to report on the factor for electricity generated instead of electricity sold which was done previously.

Margaret McKenzie