Business Day (Johannesburg)

South Africa: Renewable Energy Target Urged

Johannesburg — GOVERNMENT should set a target for 15% of electricity produced in SA to come from renewable resources by 2020, according to an independent report released yesterday.

The study, undertaken by the University of Cape Town with input by an international reference group, calls for five interventions by government to be prioritised to address greenhouse gas emissions.

This comes as government is seeking to get the private sector to build new power stations in the country as Eskom's current excess capacity comes to an end. Eskom is also considering the construction of a mini-nuclear facility, the pebble bed modular reactor, which has raised the ire of environmentalists.

As a result, the Sustainable Energy & Climate Change Partnership of Earthlife Africa commissioned a study into the options for policies on renewable energy and energy efficiency in SA. The five interventions recommended by the report include mandating codes and standards for energy-efficient buildings in government, commercial and residential sectors, and setting equipment standards for industry and commerce.

The report also calls for government to subsidise the production of renewable electricity to compensate for historical subsidies for conventional energy and make emerging technologies competitive under current market conditions.

Finally, the study recommends that a pollution tax be implemented. This should focus on air pollutants and be levied per mass unit of emissions.

The study showed that a transition to sustainable energy could be achieved at little or no additional cost to the economy.

Richard Worthington, the partnership's project co-ordinator, said the study should give greater confidence to government to introduce clear and substantial measures in the renewable energy strategy which was currently in development.

"We don't need to rely on the prospects of carbon financing' (selling units of avoided greenhouse gas emissions to industrialised countries) to support a more responsible approach to energy development.

"Targets should not be based on what the advisers from the World Bank's Prototype Carbon Fund assure our officials can be achieved through their projects, but rather on the public benefits that can be achieved through best practice and full-cost accounting," he said.

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