South Africa: Amendment to Electricty Act May Open Door for More Polluting Projects

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  • Climate change lobby group has noted, with cautious optimism, the move to amend the Electricity Regulation Act.
  • In a special announcement this morning, South African President, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that the threshold for private companies to produce their own power has been increased from 1 MW to 100MW. Read more 
  • While the easing of red tape for independent power providers can be celebrated, there is concern about what this means in terms of opening the door to more polluting projects.

“The president’s move to lift the licensing requirements could unlock a flood of new renewable energy projects that are key to help solve the load shedding crisis. However, if not properly regulated, it could also open the door to many small-scale polluting projects too,” said Alex Lenferna, Green New Eskom campaigner.

In the last week, South Africans have seen load shedding hit up to stage 4, with short notice given and resulting in major interruptions to daily livelihood. This current crisis could have been avoided if the Department of Mineral Resource and Energy (DMRE) had not blocked the country’s ability to unlock renewable energy, which is the fastest, most affordable solution to load shedding. To break the gridlock on renewables, has been advocating for a just transition to renewable energy through its Green New Eskom campaign.

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE), led by Minister Gwede Mantashe, has responded to the load shedding crisis that may make our energy problems worse. The Karpowership SA deal is expensive, polluting and with a 20-year commitment, is definitely not temporary. Read more

Alia Kajee, 350Africa Public Finance campaigner said:

“A change in legislation in response to an emergency situation shows that we don’t have to rely on polluting and expensive Powerships. Where there is the ability to change the electricity regulation act, we want to see the political will towards cleaner and cheaper renewable solutions. Ones that are socially owned instead of being open to questionable procurement where public money would be at risk.”

In his speech, Ramaphosa said Eskom was being encouraged to explore the renewable energy sector. For this to truly happen though, the DMRE will have to update the outdated 2019 Integrated Resources Plan which constrains new renewable energy and allows Eskom to generate its own renewables. Doing so is a key part of ensuring Eskom plays a leading role in the transition.

Author: Bryan Groenendaal


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