South Africa: The Coming Renewable Energy Transition


One has to put it in the starkest terms: large numbers of people working in our fossil fuel-based energy sector are going to lose their jobs and it will happen in the near term. By DIRK DE VOS.

Last week, the National Union of Metalworkers SA (Numsa) teamed up with a shady and unknown entity, TransformSA, to launch an interdict preventing the signing of the outstanding Independent Power Producers (IPPs) power purchase agreements (PPAs). The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) chimed in that they opposed Eskom being the guaranteed off-taker of privately owned power generators that lock-in the profits of the qualifying IPPs.

Both unions, correctly, suspect that increasing amounts of renewable energy in the system will impact on the jobs of their members either in coal mining or in Eskom itself. The unions do not say that they are against renewables but rather that they are opposed to the creeping privatisation of the energy sector and that IPPs are some sort of Trojan Horse for just this.

Actually, it is far too late to talk about halting privatisation. Since 2006, Eskom has taken on enormous amounts of debt, about half a trillion at present, and needs to take on...

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