South Africa’s wind energy industry has adopted a charter, which commits to long-term investment in the development of the country.
A commitment statement drafted by members of the industry was adopted at an annual general meeting of the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) in Cape Town. It comes in the wake of a transition to an energy mix that will reflect a greater inclusion of renewables.
“Being aware of the fears experienced by those affected by the energy transition under way in South Africa, we are articulating our ability to make meaningful contributions to employment creation and socioeconomic transformation,” says SAWEA CEO Brenda Martin.
Some key features are outlined in the statement.
The commitment statement says the industry is able to use its own clout to assist emerging entrepreneurs in accessing finance. The industry has also signalled readiness to create and nurture jobs.
“The industry sees opportunities to sculpt a management and employment profile which reflects a fair and ethical culture that enables skills development and advancement for the young, the disadvantaged and for women; and to grow a people and ownership profile reflective of the demographics of our country,” the statement said.
The Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) has a built-in demand for local procurement. “This not only offers business opportunities for local companies, it also incentivises the industry to identify emerging entrepreneurs, especially in rural areas, and assist them to achieve high performance goals.”
Wind industry players say they are willing to voluntarily go beyond expectations on contributing to local, social and economic development.
Contract terms demand that wind industry players seek opportunities to make contributions to local, social and economic development within each operator’s catchment area – a radius of 50 km. But wind industry players say, if they are able to, they will go beyond their contractual obligations, with the goal of making long-term impacts beyond compliance.
“Our aim over time is to transform and indigenise leadership at all levels in the South African Renewable Energy sector,” says the commitment statement.
Martin says it was valuable to have a vision and commitment early on in the industry’s development.
“It has been rewarding to coordinate the drafting of the Industry commitment to South Africa and in the process to consider what we are able to contribute to socioeconomic transformation over a 20-year time horizon.”
One of the task team members involved in shaping the commitment statement is Toni Beukes, country manager for Vestas Southern Africa and chairperson of SAWEA’s Wind for Communities Working Group.
“The arc of impact for socioeconomic interventions takes us 20 years into the future. Over that period, significant funding will be generated – the first three REIPPPP rounds of bidding alone have produced over R1-billion for local community development. The potential inherent in ample time and ample funding has drawn industry players into collaboration.
“Funds and effort will have more impact if we work together,” says Beukes. “Our reach into communities often overlaps geographically, so we have begun to look for the best ways to collaborate to support socioeconomic change locally.”
For Kouga Wind Farm CEO Lukhanyo Ndube, the commitment statement is “not a list of items to be achieved to the T – it’s a conversation document, bringing us all together in discussion as an industry.”
“Everyone who has worked on this document as part of the industry team has a history,” he says. “During their working career, they’ve seen many missed opportunities to make a difference while making profits, and they bring these individual experiences and passions to this new industry.”
According to Mainstream Renewable Power South Africa CEO Hein Reyneke, the successful bidders realise they have a responsibility to South Africa, and also need to make a success of the renewable energy programme.
“The commitment statement lays the foundations for the culture of the industry. It’s a solid guide based on real-life experience, which can be used in the next phase to make pragmatic choices, to find ways to hold each other accountable, and to set tangible, measurable goals.”