Environmental Implications of Electricity Generation

Appliance Standards and Labelling has significant environmental benefits because of the role it plays in helping to reduce electricity demand. In South Africa most of the electricity is generated by coal-fired power stations. Coal fired electricity generation has three major environmental impacts:

  • Emissions of air pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter. This has negative effects on human health and in particular has been linked to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
  • Emissions of Carbon Dioxide. This contributes to the Greenhouse Gas effect which in turn can contribute to human-induced climate change. South Africa is one of the largest per capita emitter of Greenhouses Gases in the world and accounts for half of the Greenhouse Gas emissions from Africa.  
  • Use of significant amounts of water contributing to pressure on South Africa’s already limited water resources. South Africa is a water scarce country and in recent years has experienced several cases of droughts.   

Implications of using one kWh of Electricity

For the 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017 period Eskom has calculated the following environmental implications of using one kWh of Electricity:

Coal use0.53 kilograms
Water use1.53 litres
Ash produced151 grams
Particulate emissions0.30 grams
CO₂ emissions0.98 kilograms
SOx emissions8.20 grams
NOx emissions4.11 grams

Environmental Benefits of Appliance Standards and Labelling

The Appliance Standards and Labelling Programme is predicted to save 5,500,000 MWh of electricity by 2030 in South Africa using the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory BUENAS modeling tool.  For more information read this document explaining the Energy Savings Estimates from the Standards and Labelling Programme.

This elevated level of savings is achieved by removing the most energy inefficient appliances from the market in South Africa and encouraging consumers to purchase the most efficient appliances by ensuring that consumers understand the likely energy consumption of appliances prior to purchasing.  The annual benefits of saving 5,500,000 MhW are highlighted below:


Savings of R12,000,000,000 in annual energy bills

Reduction of 6,000,000 tons of CO2 emissions 

Savings of 8,000,000,000 litres of water

Reduction of 3,000,000 tons of coal burned

Reduction of 2,000 tons of particulate emissions

Reduction of 50,000 tons of SOx emissions

Reduction of 24,000 tons of NOx emissions

Relative contribution to savings of the different appliances

The chart below shows how different appliances contribute to the savings of 5,500,000 MWh of electricity annually by 2030.

FAQs: Have more questions? See a list of FAQs about Appliance Standards and Labelling