Alternatives to a Privately Owned Future for Renewable Energy in South Africa
South Africa’s electricity sector is dominated by the state-owned utility Eskom. In recent years, private sector actors have invested in renewable energy through the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), which has steadily increased. Despite this progress, the transition to renewables is not happening fast enough to meet South Africa’s commitments toward the 1.5C target under the Paris Agreement, nor to offset the energy deficit that will result from the decommissioning of coal power plants planned in the country’s Integrated Resource Plan 2019.
Renewable energy also faces substantial opposition due to political interests that support other energy sources and public and institutional resistance to privatization. There is thus a need to explore new models for renewable energy development and investigate the implications of these models for South Africa.
As part of the webinar, we launched the IISD paper “Power by All: Alternatives to a privately owned future for renewable energy in South Africa.” Using 4 international case studies of publicly and community-owned renewable energy, the paper seeks to inform debate on the need for increased publicly and community-owned renewable energy development, while considering the implications these business models have for increasing renewable energy deployment in South Africa.
This session explored the following questions:
- Accessing finance has been viewed as a hurdle for community-owned energy—how could this be addressed?
- Aside from policy, what barriers hinder municipalities from procuring or generating renewable energy?
- Should South Africa move forward with the REIPPPP alone, or pursue a mixed model of public and private ownership of large-scale renewables?
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Taking place on the sidelines of the WTO's Twelfth Ministerial Conference (MC12), IISD's Trade and Sustainability Hub is a hybrid event focused on policy issues at the intersection of trade and sustainable development.