An analysis of collective ownership models to promote renewable energy development and climate justice in South Africa
Bode, Christiaan César
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This study broadly investigates South African energy policy with specific emphasis on the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP). It investigates how the procurement programme links to rights-based climate justice principles. Climate justice principles have the potential to greatly impact the socio-economic development characteristics of the renewable energy sector. These principles incorporate the notions of participation and self-representation, equality, and the anti-commodification of nature, thus linking to the collective ownership aspect of renewable energy plants. Depending on the procurement model chosen, renewable energy has the potential to offer true broad-based empowerment and developmental benefits to the country. A neo-Gramscian theoretical framework was selected in order to draw links between the renewable energy sector and the political economy which are so entrenched in the Minerals- Energy Complex (MEC). The neo-Gramscian framework demonstrates strength in the uncovering of the shift in the social relations of production and how these interact with the state and the international class project. It is utilised to expose the character of power and hegemony and how the needs of transnational capital are satisfied within local perceptions of development. This research revealed that the renewable energy sector has been annexed by the transnational neoliberal agenda through the non-participative nature of the REIPPPP. To challenge this power relation, the neo-Gramscian notion of a counter-hegemony is particularly pertinent. Community renewables, the focus of this research, are presented as such a counterhegemonic alternative. A number of European countries have successfully integrated community owned renewable energy plants into their energy sectors. Various case studies of community renewables in Denmark, Sweden and the UK respectively are proposed as alternative ownership models to those being promoted in the REIPPPP in South Africa. Barriers to community renewables in the South African context have been identified. These identified barriers allow one to make informed predictions about the future ownership of the renewable energy sector in South Africa. Recommendations are suggested that would work towards promoting a more inclusive and participatory renewable energy sector with greater adherence to climate justice principles.
- Humanities