South African court rules in favor of renewables

According to various sources, the Gauteng North High Court in Pretoria has ruled against an urgent court interdict, brought by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and Transform RSA NPC earlier this month, in a last ditch attempt to prevent Eskom from signing 27 outstanding renewable energy power purchase agreements (PPAs).

On March 9, South Africa’s Energy Minister, Jeff Radebe announced that all 27 power purchase agreements (PPAs) would be signed on March 13, finally putting an end to the three year long saga.

However, in a ridiculous turn of events, the signing was stopped after the two unions representing coal interests filed the urgent interdict at the eleventh hour, stating that the signing of the PPAs would “lead to the closure of the coal fired power plants and the impact will be that at least 30 thousand working class families will suffer because of job losses.” They also cited “dramatically” increasing energy costs.

Thankfully, common sense appears to have prevailed, with various sources announcing that the interdict has been struck from the court.

Commenting on its Twitter account, the South African Wind Energy Association stated, “SAWEA is pleased that the immense economic, social and environmental contribution that can be made by SA’s RE Industry can now be unlocked. The Gauteng North High Court has ruled that the NUMSA/Transform SA application for an interdict should be struck from the roll.”

The signing of the PPAs are expected to bring a welcome boost to South Africa’s renewable energy industry, which has been on pause for the past three years.

Minister Radebe forecasts a private sector investment of R56 billion (around $4.7 billion) over the next two to three years, and the creation of 61,600 jobs, of which 95% will go to the local population.