On Monday, the South African Renewable Energy Council (SAREC) noted and responded to the resignation of Eskom’s CEO, Brian Molefe, calling on a shift of attitude from the country’s electricity public utility.
Behind the success of the country’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), was the joint working relationship and backing of SAREC and the power utility. However, this relationship has been strained in recent months, which Mike Levington, board member of the South African Renewable Energy Council, explains.
“We have, however, found the increasingly irrational and inaccurate criticisms leveled at renewable energy and the REIPPP programme by Mr Molefe and Mr Koko [Group Executive Generation] in recent months difficult to fathom, particularly since neither has ever sought to engage with the industry directly through well-established platforms to do this.”
SAREC on renewables investor confidence
In a public statement, SAREC said that “failure to follow clearly understood communication channels has led to the undermining of investor confidence in the South African IPP sector, confusion around energy policy, loss of jobs in a fledgling domestic renewable energy industry and anger amongst local communities who should have already been receiving the benefits of job creation and socio-economic dividends if Eskom was fully supportive of the REIPPP programme.”
Levington added: “We hope that the appointment of a new Chief Executive will lead to constructive communication between Eskom and SAREC as well as reinvigoration of momentum in the REIPPP programme, the financial close of the Redstone CSP project from Round 3, the 26 projects from Round 4 and the Small IPP programme, and the announcement of the Expedited Round preferred bidders.”
The energy council added that “the renewable energy sector has been ready for almost 12 months to play an active contribution towards the Nine Point Plan as articulated by President J G Zuma in his most recent State of the Nation address, directly in resolving the energy challenge as well as encouraging private sector investment.
“It is expected that after the closing of Rounds 4 and the Expedited Round, the REIPPP programme will have been the cause of greater than R250 billion [$17 billion] of investment into South Africa.”
Levington added: “With the ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change and the current climate negotiations in Marrakech, we also hope that Eskom, NERSA and other government stakeholders realise the potential that renewable energy can play in meeting both South Africa’s climate change commitments as well as empowering its citizens through access to more affordable electricity.
“It is potential that our regional neighbours, BRICS partners and the world at large are embracing – so should we.”
SAREC is confident that with the imminent release of the Integrated Resource Plan approved by Cabinet for public comment, and a clear vision for the future role of renewable energy technology, the sector will be able to play an even larger role in supporting investment, job creation, local manufacturing and socio-economic development in the areas of South Africa that are most in need.
Featured image: Jeffrey’s Bay wind farm: SAREC