As 2018 draws to a close, the South African Renewable Energy Council (SAREC) wishes to reaffirm its commitment to building the renewable energy sector in South Africa and that its member associations recognize that the industry needs to play a more constructive role in meeting the energy challenges facing South Africa and the region.
SAREC will continue to ensure that renewable energy will increasingly become a central player in the provision of electricity to help drive the South African economy, as well as playing a catalytic role in the just energy transition. All electricity sector stakeholders agree that the country is about to embark on an energy transition, but there is very little direction or structure to what that transition is and what it means to each stakeholder.
SAREC strongly believes that at this critical moment, South Africa needs to find consensus on:
- a short, medium- and long-term vision for South Africa’s electricity supply industry;
- the best structure and transition path of the Energy Supply Industry (ESI) to achieve those visions;
- a common platform amongst all Energy players, and
- the restructuring of Eskom and municipal suppliers to support that
Due to the dramatic fall in the renewable energy prices and inexorable rise of Eskom’s wholesale tariffs due to its operational, environmental and financial challenges, renewable energy is transitioning from an alternative to a mainstream and increasingly preferred energy choice for South African business and residential customers.
SAREC therefore calls on Government to commit to greater participation by renewable energy in the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) as part of the move to the decarbonized economy as envisioned in the National Development Plan (NDP). This will only compliment the full suite of the generation mix technology options. Even more critically, that it urgently convenes a process amongst social partners to find consensus on a just energy transition plan that gives confidence to all stakeholders that they have a legitimate and sustainable role to play in South Africa’s energy transition.
SAREC will work alongside Business to scale up the adoption of cost saving technology. SAREC encourages Business to take a more proactive role in the increased adoption of renewable energy to mitigate against electricity cost increases for industrial and commercial customers in a manner that allows it to remain competitive, but to also ensure sustainability for national and municipal entities during the transition to new ESI structures.
We believe that examples the world over show that renewable energy ownership comes in many forms and it is the technology that will be most successful in the democratization of the energy economy. We would therefore like to reach out to organized Labour to establish platforms to engage so that both sets of parties can better find areas of contention and consensus.
SAREC would also like to reach out to Civil Society and NGOs to assist in playing a role to inform and uplift communities about how they can play an active role in the energy transition and to ensure that it is just.
Renewable energy is the 4th Industrial Revolution impacting today; understanding its power will also ensure that communities will also be lifted as we rise.
Finally, the renewable energy sector also needs some self-reflection on how it wants to be seen as legitimate, particularly as we come out of a long period of uncertainty. The current procurement of renewable energy has ensured large windfalls of inward investment by global investors. While this should not be compromised, other procurement mechanisms must be instituted to ensure that all parts of the value chain see significantly higher levels of active participation by South Africans – black and white, men and women, young and old. We are confident that South African has the talent – now we JUST need the energy.