GROUND-UP The potential role that municipalities could and should play as part of South Africa’s just energy transition
nergy security concerns, rising electricity prices, the emergence of low-cost renewable energy technologies and the growth of embedded generators have resulted
in a range of challenges for utilities globally and now in South Africa. Municipal distributors are no exception here. In light of these dynamics, municipalities are being compelled to re-define their role in the electricity value chain and adapt their funding and operating models. All of this being contextualised in the global consensus surrounding climate as part of commitments made in the Paris Agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). As part of this agreement, various nations have committed to National Determined Contributions (NDCs) that aim to reduce CO2 emissions, improve emissions reporting, and strategic planning that aims to
improve national contributions to climate change mitigation. South Africa’s NDC was established in 2016 (inclusive of adaptation and mitigation components) based on The National Climate Change Response Policy (NCCRP) from 2011. The global energy transition aims to adhere to these requirements by enabling the cleanest and most sustainable energy mixes in all nations. The energy transition is currently occurring globally and domestically. Without proper planning, it is expected that substantial economic and socioeconomic losses would be incurred by the South African economy and society. These losses will be compounded on a regional level in areas where coal mining activities have been driving economic activity. A regional and national just energy transition plan or strategy is therefore needed to ensure that this transition is associated with social inclusion, decent work for all and the eradication of poverty while the transition unfolds.