Governing electricity in South Africa: wind, coal and power struggles

Baker, Lucy (2011) Governing electricity in South Africa: wind, coal and power struggles. Working Paper. Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, Norwich.

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South Africa’s electricity policy is at a crossroads. Its historical dependence on cheap coal for approximately 90 per cent of its electricity generation is under threat. This paper firstly examines how the governance of South Africa’s electricity is inextricably bound up with the country’s historical dependence on cheap coal for export-oriented industry and complex political and economic legacy which has shaped its minerals-energy complex (Fine and Rustomjee 1996). Secondly it finds that despite regulatory hold-ups and departmental tensions, power dynamics in the electricity sector are shifting with the potential introduction of private renewable energy generation into the energy mix. Of this, wind is set to form the largest component. Meanwhile Eskom’s Medupi coal-fired power plant deemed as essential to the country’s generation expansion has been redefined as a ‘clean coal’ power plant following a World Bank loan of $3 billion in April 2010. The paper concludes that while vested interests in the country’s coal-based industrial trajectory are still very influential, they are simultaneously challenged with rising coal costs, imminent national electricity supply shortages and increasing tariffs, a funding crisis of the electricity utility, the demands of climate change mitigation and emerging stakeholders in renewable generation.

Item Type: Reports and working papers (Working Paper)
Keywords: South Africa, wind, coal, power
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Subjects: H Social Sciences
J Political Science
Depositing User: Lucy Baker
Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2015 15:57
Last Modified: 05 Nov 2015 13:15

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Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
The Governance of Clean Development: CDM and BeyondG0653ESRC-ECONOMIC & SOCIAL RESEARCH COUNCILD00204