Renewable energy, the just transition and inequality: insights from South Africa’s renewables procurement

Cassim, Aalia
Taylor, Julia
Crompton, Roderick
Valodia, Imraan
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University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
Southern Centre for Inequality Studies (SCIS)
Low- and middle-income countries across the world are facing the dilemma of needing to decarbonise and industrialise in the context of an electricity supply crisis. The transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy is one of the first steps taken in any process of decarbonisation to address climate change. The energy transition is complex and holds significant economic risk. It requires strong governance and a capable state as well as coordination across government, community organisations and the private sector. This mammoth task requires the State to adopt policies that balance social, economic and climate objectives while reviewing past policies that may no longer be appropriate. This paper discusses the de-risking approach and the investment-centred approach to an energy transition, and using the case study of South Africa, argues for the necessity of an investment-centred approach to achieve a transition which supports local development and energy security. In analysing the example of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme (REI4P), we highlight important learnings for the energy transition, which provide a useful window into the wider carbon transition.
Climate, Sustainability, Inequality, South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme (REI4P)