Monday, 24 September, 2018

Renewable energy deal is delayed - again

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Patty Aguilar | 15 March, 2018, 01:59

Numsa argues that signing them would see the utility cutting back on using coal for power, which would lead to the closure of coal-fired plants and hurt the livelihoods of at least 30,000 families.

In what came as a relief to the renewable energy industry last week, energy minister Jeff Radebe announced the long-awaited 27 renewable energy independent power producer (IPP) projects will finally be signed on Tuesday.

The ministry claims that the long-delayed REIPP projects would create 61,600 jobs with 95% of those going to South Africans.

In the ruling, the court says: "The respondents will have circumvented the process which is now pending before court; and the applicants will have no choice but to institute applications to review and set aside the awarding of the contracts. Eskom was planning to sign these agreements despite the fact that a previous application, by the Coal Transporters Forum to interdict them from signing, is still pending at the north Gauteng high court".

Greenpeace Africa says it strongly condemns the urgent court interdict granted to Numsa to halt the signing of 27 Independent Power Provider (IPP) renewable energy contracts.

"The IPP roll-out will raise the cost of electricity dramatically, because IPP's cost much more than coal-fired electricity", Numsa said.

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Nonetheless, this is despite a recent report by the CSIR stating renewables are way cheaper than fossil fuels. The 27 projects include wind, solar photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP) technologies. Extracting fossil fuels from underground is a "resource play".

The order is another setback for energy developers including Denham Capital-backed BioTherm Energy and ACWA Power International that have been waiting for deals to be signed since 2016.

But Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi questioned how the department would create jobs, when there were threats of coal power stations shutting down.

But this plan was stopped by trade union Numsa and lobby group Transform South Africa when they were granted a late-night interdict by the High Court to halt the proceedings.

Government's strong signal to the renewables industry will also help South Africa to recover to its former position as a leader in renewables and independent power production.

Yelland, the investigative editor of EE Publishers, on Tuesday described the court bid as a "delay tactic", saying the move towards renewable energy is a global trend which would not leave South Africa behind.

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