The South African Renewable Energy Council (SAREC) noted and responded to the resignation of Eskom’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Brian Molefe, calling on a shift of attitude from the country’s electricity public utility.
SAREC has in the main had a constructive working relationship with Eskom around the globally successful Renewable Energy IPP Procurement Programme (REIPPP) since its inception in 2012. “We have, however, found the increasingly irrational and inaccurate criticisms leveled at renewable energy and the REIPPP programme by Mr Molefe and Mr Koko 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,” said Mike Levington, board member of the South African Renewable Energy Council.
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.
“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,” added Levington.
SAREC says 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 of investment into South Africa.
“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 realize 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,” said Levington.
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.