Energy Research Centre • University of Cape Town


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South Africa’s electricity system faces many critical challenges, including the necessity of climate change mitigation, provision of energy services to the poor, and electricity requirements of a growing economy. We need to be able to think creatively about future power options, while making realistic assessments of technical requirements and the economic and environmental consequences of specific choices. These considerations are traditionally accommodated through electricity planning systems, which are based on complex models which are challenging, time-consuming and expensive to run. Only a small range of alternatives are considered, assumptions are not easily tested, and the implications of many options are left unexplored.

SNAPP overcomes these barriers by providing a transparent, spreadsheet-based electricity system model which is very simple to use, and requires little more than a keen interest in our electricity future. On the one hand, it is a useful tool to explore the implications of specific technology choices, and on the other, it provides a high degree of technical rigour for users who wish to develop plausible and detailed future electricity scenarios for South Africa.

SNAPP allows users to specify future investments in the South African electricity system, and calculates the costs, the investment requirements, probably impact on the average cost of generation (and thus the electricity price), and the emissions implications, and includes a sophisticated reliability check to ensure that the chosen investments will result in a reliable electricity system. Unlike traditional modelling frameworks, because SNAPP is a spreadsheet, results are instantaneous. Users can immediately see the consequences of their choices without having to ‘run’ a complex modelling framework. In addition, users can impose taxes on GHG emissions, alter electricity demand to accommodate a solar water heating or PV programme, or a broader energy efficiency strategy, change the discount rate, change fuel prices, and any other more advanced technical parameter. Other data such as levelised costs of potential generating options is automatically calculated. SNAPP allows comparison between two different scenarios, and also conveys detailed information on the performance of each technology in each scenario.

SNAPP has been recalibrated with the parameters used in IRP 2010, so that users can explore the implications of the IRP2010 scenarios, and see the effect of changes to the parameters

The following items are downloadable here: