Toward resilient energy transition pathways in South Africa: Renewable energy development implications for rural areas of selected provinces

Authors: Andrea Lombard*, Stellenbosch University; University of South Africa, Sanette L.A. Ferreira, Stellenbosch University
Topics: Energy, Economic Geography, Rural Geography
Keywords: renewable energy, regional development, rural economies, South Africa
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Gallier A, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Shortfalls in a fossil-fuel based supply and failure to meet the electricity demand in South Africa led to renowned interest in renewable energy development across the country. Through a relatively successful Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) the country managed to secure approximately 20% of its total electricity consumption to be generated in the form of renewables. However, the vertically integrated, monopolistic, state-owned Electricity Supply Commission of South Africa (Eskom) is still firmly in control of the national grid which is considered an impediment towards the growth of the independently produced renewable energy industry of South Africa. With most of the current renewable energy projects being developed in rural areas of South Africa, this presentation focuses on the effects of solar and wind energy project developments on the rural populace of the Northern Cape and Eastern Cape provinces. The study builds on the principles of evolutionary economic geography as an explanatory paradigm for the understanding of long-term economic changes and how it differs between places which can aid our understanding of renewable energy development in rural localities. The methodology consists of gathering both archival and empirical evidence using participatory research techniques. Preliminary results indicate that solar and wind energy developments have a definite role to play in the dire energy and economic context of the country as a whole, but that the economic effects on the rural areas are localized, short-term and generally not sustainable. These developments also come at a significant cost from a rural socio-cultural perspective.

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