Thursday, April 15, 2021
Greening And Environment

South Africa’s new energy transition investigated

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Following the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe’s announcement last Thursday (18 March 2021), the Green Connection says it questions governments’ reasoning to include three (3) Karpowerships companies as its preferred bidders for the Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (RMIPPPP).

Green Connection’s Strategic Lead Liziwe McDaid, says, “As the climate crisis intensifies, South Africa should be embarking on an energy transition to non-greenhouse gas emitting renewable energy sources. How do the Karpowership projects make the grade in this context since it will lock South Africa into fossil fuels for another twenty-odd years? A much better option would be to rather promote and invest in renewable energy projects, which are normally contracted for around the same period, but which can be far more socially-inclusive and better for the environment.”

McDaid says, “We are also concerned about environmental safety. Numerous media reports recently confirmed that, in 2020, a senior environmental affairs official was “persuaded” to grant these Karpowerships exemption from conducting mandatory environmental impact assessments. The excuse provided was that South Africa desperately needed extra electricity supplies, due to the Covid-19 crisis. This was later retracted by the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fishing (DEFF), following an outcry from civil society. However, these dangerous compromises that government is prepared to make, on behalf of the people, are very worrying.”

She says, “There is no doubt that, as a result of mismanagement and corruption, Eskom has forced the country into a very dangerous corner with its rapidly increasing electricity prices, failing infrastructure, and the resulting load shedding. However, when exemptions like these occur with no rational reason, it creates an environment lacking in transparency and lends itself to suspicion. Should we, in our desperation, just accept any form of power generation, irrespective of its potentially harmful impacts or long-term cost implications?”

“Something does not smell right, especially when we consider that some of the successful applicants are the very ones that have a history of trying to avoid socio-ecological obligations. The Green Connection’s legal team will investigate the situation further and will respectfully request that Minister Mantashe provides substantiated reasons for his decisions,” says McDaid.

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