Renewable energy ‘good for SA development’

2013-03-19 11:49

Renewable energy has the potential to spur on socioeconomic development in South Africa, the World Future Council (WFC) has said.

According to a new study conducted by the WFC and the Heinrich Böll Foundation, renewable energy feed-in tariff policies (REFiT) were a promising way to unlock renewable energy development in Africa.

The study was released yesterday.

“REFiTs encourage investment in renewable energy generation from individual home owners and communities to big companies by guaranteeing to buy and pay for all the electricity produced,” WFC Africa director Ansgar Kiene said in a statement.

The report, aimed at policy makers, civil society and the private sector, analysed existing and drafted REFiT policies in 13 African countries.

“The study shows clearly that, when tailored to the local context, REFiT policies successfully increase overall energy production in both on and off-grid areas,” Kiene said.

“Moreover, the decentralised nature of REFiTs provides the opportunity to empower communities as well as revitalising local democracy and self-governance by allowing for alternative ownership and governance models.”

South Africa was already opening up the market for independent renewable energy power producers via the renewable energy independent power producer procurement programme.

“However, the country has even more potential for local economic development if the programme is amended, including a more streamlined and transparent administrative process and a lower production threshold,” said Kiene.

In the report, a variety of national and international measures to shift financial resources towards renewable energy uptake were identified. These included levies on fossil fuels or contributions from the UN’s Green Climate Fund.

Kulthoum Omari, the sustainable development programme manager at the Heinrich Böll Foundation South Africa, stressed REFiTs were most successful as an integral part of a country’s wider development strategy.

Political support as well as buy-in from civil society and the private sector were crucial factors for the successful development and implementation of REFiTs.

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