Green energy activists say that the long-awaited signing of power purchase agreements (PPAs) with renewable energy producers is a sign that the new government administration is taking steps to erase the power of state capture.
On Wednesday, Energy Minister Jeff Radebe signed PPAs with independent power producers, ending a more than two-year delay amid a push for nuclear energy, and a revolving door of energy minister appointees.
Greenpeace Africa’s political adviser on climate and energy, Happy Khambule, said one could not write off nuclear until a new Integrated Resource Plan (the country’s electricity plan) was released without nuclear allocations in it.
“The vested interests behind nuclear are too significant to write off at this stage,” he said.
“Greenpeace has long stated that there is an anti-renewable energy campaign being run in South Africa, led by the former leadership at Eskom, to protect vested interests in coal and nuclear, and this campaign has resulted in a slowdown of the renewable energy revolution in the country, and the refusal to sign these agreements has been symptomatic of the resistance to renewable energy.”
South Africa had some of the best renewable resources in the world, and it seemed like the new administration might finally be starting to remove the barriers to utilising this energy, Khambule said.
WWF-SA policy and futures unit head Saliem Fakir said Radebe’s statement that the “lower prices” from the renewable energy projects would counter the perception that renewable energy was more expensive than energy generated by fossil fuels.
South Africa had long made commitments to reduce greenhouse emissions but lacked the political will to do so, Makoma Lekalakala of Earthlife Africa-Johannesburg said.
“Moving from business as usual to a much more low-carbon electricity generation will improve access to electricity to the majority, poor people, who suffer energy poverty and will combat climate change.”