Eskom and the rise of renewables: regime-resistance, crisis and the strategy of incumbency in South Africa's electricity system

Ting, Marie Blanche and Byrne, Rob (2020) Eskom and the rise of renewables: regime-resistance, crisis and the strategy of incumbency in South Africa's electricity system. Energy Research & Social Science, 60. a101333. ISSN 2214-6296

[img] PDF (can't use) - Published Version
Restricted to SRO admin only
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial No Derivatives.

Download (2MB)
[img] PDF - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial No Derivatives.

Download (661kB)

Abstract

The sustainability transitions literature considers regimes as sources of inertia, in which change is difficult to achieve due to resistance and lock-in. However, regime-resistance is an understudied issue, and so it is unclear which parts of the regime create resistance and how. In this paper, we contribute such an analysis by developing the concept of a multi-dimensional selection environment to explore regime-resistance and the maintenance of regime-stability in the face of challenges from a niche. We present a case study tracing the efforts of South Africa's state-owned electricity utility Eskom, conceptualised as a dominant regime-incumbent, to resist the addition of renewable energy-based electricity generation, conceptualised as part of a niche. We examine battles over rule-changes to the regime selection environment, wherein Eskom tried to maintain the status quo and niche actors tried to transform it. We find that Eskom had an evolving strategy of regime-resistance in response to several gains achieved by the renewables niche over time. Our analysis suggests ways to theorise regime-resistance by developing a more specific and dimensioned view of the selection environment and operationalising the strategies that regime and niche actors might implement in their respective attempts to maintain or change that selection environment. By understanding how these strategies work, we argue that those seeking to transform an unsustainable regime could develop more effective strategies for undermining regime-resistance and promoting niches.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: regime resistance, energy transitions, incumbency, path dependency, lock-in
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Depositing User: Marie Blanche Ting
Date Deposited: 21 Feb 2020 10:42
Last Modified: 27 Feb 2020 16:45
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/90029

View download statistics for this item

📧 Request an update