Coal lobby in court to quosh South Africa renewable deals
South African truckers will go to court next week in a bid to get dozens of power deals with renewables projects cancelled, as the nation’s powerful coal lobby continues its campaign of opposition to its clean energy ambitions.
The Coal Transportation Forum (CTF) will ask the Guateng High Court to set aside power purchase agreements (PPAs) signed by state utility Eskom with more than 2GW of wind and solar projects under Round 4 of South Africa’s REIPPPP procurement programme, arguing they were concluded without following due process.
The CTF’s action sweeps up projects involving some of the biggest names in global renewables, including Enel, Elawan and Mainstream Renewable Power.
The renewables sector believes the CTF’s case is weak – but the action is another unwelcome challenge for South Africa’s clean energy ambitions.
The Round 4 projects were offered power deals as long ago as 2015, but only finally signed last year after a long standoff with Eskom that tested the patience of investors in the sector.
Efforts to shift Eskom and the rest of the South African power sector towards renewables have run into stiff opposition from the country’s powerful and politically well-connected coal generation and mining sectors.
The CTF’s trucks have previously blockaded Pretoria over the issue, and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) failed in a court bid a year ago to halt the signing of the PPAs.
Brenda Martin, CEO of the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA), which is leading the sector’s defence against the CTF’s challenge, said: “Change can be painful. However, instead of approaching the courts and discrediting IPPs, lobby groups and interested parties should regard the energy transition as largely progressive, play a leading role in managing it and prepare their members accordingly.”
South Africa is due to launch the fifth round of REIPPPP soon.