Govt unfazed by labour fears, commits to renewables
Government has committed to continue the expansion of renewables in the country's energy mix amid strong opposition from labour unions.
In a statement yesterday, following a Cabinet meeting, the executive said they will ensure a responsible and just transition to a cleaner future.
This will ensure SA significantly contributes to the global effort for a low-carbon and climate-resilient world, says Cabinet.
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), the biggest single trade union in SA with more than 338 000 members, is up in arms against government's drive towards renewable energy.
Numsa believes the liquidity crisis confronting Eskom is self-generated by the ANC-led government, which is looking to "privatise" the power utility mainly to renewable energy independent power producers (IPPs).
It has since threatened court action as well as "rolling mass action" against government's stance on Eskom and renewable energy.
Renewable power from IPPs currently accounts for 3.8GW, less than 5% of the energy sold to consumers.
"Renewable energy and energy storage technologies enable us to convert electrical power into an energy form and store it for later use when needed," Cabinet says in its statement.
"Energy storage systems reduce the need for backup capacity from coal- or gas-fired electrical generation plants, thereby reducing power sector emissions and helping us mitigate climate change.
"Energy is a key enabler in SA's trajectory towards socio-economic growth and development. The National Development Plan states SA needs at least 20 000 megawatts of renewable energy by 2030," Cabinet said.
Government says within eight years, the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPP) has attracted R209.4 billion in committed private sector investment, resulting in much-needed alleviation of fiscal pressure.
It adds the renewable IPPs have created 38 701 job years for youth and women from their surrounding communities.
With regards to the environment, the REIPPP's contribution has meant SA's carbon emission is reduced by about 33.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide and water savings of 39.2 million kilolitres achieved by 31 December 2018.
Meanwhile, Eskom says the power system remains tight and volatile, and the risk of rotational load-shedding remains high for today as well as for the weekend as the power utility needs to replenish emergency reserves (water and diesel) to limit the possibility of load-shedding in the following week.