Sustainability transitions and the politics of electricity planning in South Africa

Baker, Lucy (2016) Sustainability transitions and the politics of electricity planning in South Africa. In: Brauch, Hans Günter, Spring, Úrsula Oswald, Grin, John and Scheffran, Jürgen (eds.) Handbook on sustainability transition and sustainable peace, hexagon series on human and environmental security. Hexagon series on human and environmental security and peace, 10 . Springer International Publishing, London, pp. 793-809. ISBN 9783319438825

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After decades of cheap, abundant coal-fired electricity, from which large international mining and energy conglomerates and wealthy households have benefitted disproportionately, South Africa is experiencing a supplyside crisis. In 2011, the country’s first integrated resource plan for electricity (IRP) was promulgated following a prolonged and contested consultation process throughout 2010. This plan anticipates that renewable energy will constitute twenty per cent of installed generation capacity by 2030, which will deliver approximately nine per cent of supply. Coal will retain the greatest share alongside a potential yet currently uncertain nuclear fleet. The objectives of this chapter are twofold: to examine electricity governance in South Africa and the highly politicized policy-making process in relation to IRP in which vested interests have played a major role; and to consider the extent to which the IRP has facilitated a low carbon transition. The chapter finds that despite the creation of a successful renewable energy ‘niche’, the coal-fired ‘regime’ is also being reinforced and the electricity mix under analysis is fuelling an unsustainable trajectory of production and consumption. The chapter also considers definitions of sustainability and concepts of a ‘just’ transition.

Item Type: Book Section
Keywords: South Africa, political economy, socio-technical transitions, electricity, multi-level perspective, integrated resource plan,
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Subjects: J Political Science
J Political Science > JC Political theory. The state. Theories of the state > JC501 Purpose, functions, and relations of the state
T Technology > T Technology (General)
T Technology > TK Electrical engineering. Electronics Nuclear engineering > TK3001 Distribution or transmission of electric power
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Depositing User: Lucy Baker
Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2015 08:38
Last Modified: 16 Jan 2017 09:52
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Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
The Governance of Clean Development: CDM and BeyondG0653ESRC-ECONOMIC & SOCIAL RESEARCH COUNCILD00204