Cape Town – The signing of the 27 outstanding renewable energy projects indicates government’s commitment to the programme and will provide diversity to the energy mix in line with the national development plan (NDP), said Parliament’s oversight committee.
Energy Minister Jeff Radebe signed the 27 contracts totalling R56bn at the Department of Energy’s independent power producer (IPP) office in Centurion, Gauteng on Wednesday. The projects are expected to generate 2 300 MW of electricity over the next five years, Fin24 reported.
The signing had been delayed numerous times before and at the briefing Radebe described it as a milestone, following a long period of uncertainty.
Parliament’s energy committee had similar views. Committee chair Fikile Majola said in a statement the signing offers government’s commitment and ensures the certainty of the renewable energy programme.
“The signing of the agreements with independent power producers is part of the country’s energy mix, which includes renewable energy, as stated in the energy policy by government,” said Majola.
Referring to the NDP, which proposes diversity and alternative energy resources and energy supply options, Majola explained that the signing of the IPPs will provide the required diversity in line with the NDP.
Parliament’s environment affairs committee also welcomed the signing of the contracts, as it indicates the country’s commitment to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions footprint and transitioning to a low-carbon economy, the committee said in a statement. These objectives are also aligned to the NDP.
“This signing is also important in terms of the Paris Agreement, which we had both signed and ratified as a country,” said committee chair Philemon Mapulane.
“We have certainly set the stage for an increase in renewable investments in our country, which could accelerate the decline of traditional energy and accelerate the adoption of alternative energies,” said Mapulane.
However unions have not welcomed the signing, raising concerns that the IPPs could lead to job losses if coal mines are shut down.
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa brought an urgent application before the courts to interdict the signing. The high court rejected the urgent bid. Numsa believes that 30 000 jobs would be at stake.
The National Union of Mineworkers in turn has threatened to end its support of the ANC. According to the union, 40 000 jobs are at risk in the coal sector value chain, Fin24 reported.
The energy department previously said the IPPs could create 61 600 jobs.
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