WWF calls on government for REFIT commitment

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WWF South Africa calls on government to communicate a steadfast commitment to the Renewable Energy Feed-In Tariff (REFIT) approach to procuring renewable energy in South Africa.

This follows the discovery that regulations do not provide a legal mandate for application of the tariffs adopted by National Energy Regulator South Africa (NERSA) at the beginning of 2009.

“It is problematic that poor implementation of policy, supposedly intended to facilitate use of our extensive renewable resources, is not levelling the playing field for the most sustainable and least-risk supply options, but presents further barriers,” says WWF South Africa’s Climate Change Programme Manager, Richard Worthington.

Lack of a legal mandate to implement tariff provisions for renewable energy was revealed to parliamentarians during a briefing on Friday 24 June. Department of Energy statements suggest support for a competitive bidding process instead, which would counteract the benefits of the REFIT approach that has enjoyed international success.

Government’s decision to offer assured and regulated tariffs, instead of a competitive bidding mechanism, followed many years of consultation and deliberation.

In 1998 the Energy White Paper made a firm commitment to directing substantial finance for the use of renewable energy resources. After careful consideration of the different approaches to levelling the playing field for renewable energy suppliers to the electricity supply industry, the 2003 Renewable Energy White Paper (REWP) compared establishing feed-in tariffs with a ‘Portfolio Standard’ approach in which bids are solicited to realise an obligatory share of renewables within the energy supply portfolio.

The decision to make use of the Feed-In Tariff was confirmed at the National Summit in March 2009, providing the policy mandate for NERSA to determine appropriate tariffs to kick-start national development of renewable electricity supply.

“In the year that we host high-profile negotiations seeking an effective multilateral response to escalating climate change and extreme weather events, and while we maintain a right to international support to reduce our dependence on coal, South Africa cannot afford to prevaricate on addressing market conditions that continue to marginalise renewable energy.”

“It is imperative that government acts to rescue South Africa’s credibility as an investment destination for burgeoning renewable energy industries, which are already at the forefront of economic growth,” says Worthington.

“Whatever regulation revisions or additional provisions are required, past oversights or lack of adequate legal opinion should not be allowed to undermine a policy decision and market mechanism that has been some ten years in the making.”

About WWF
WWF is one of the World’s largest and most respected independent conservation organisations, with almost 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.

WWF South Africa
WWF South Africa is a national office that is part of the WWF network. We are a local NGO that for more than 40 years has worked towards the aim of inspiring all South Africans to live in harmony with nature, for the benefit of our country and the well-being of all our people.

WWF stands for the World Wide Fund for Nature.
See www.wwf.org.za for more information.
Follow WWF on Twitter http://twitter.com/WWFSouthAfrica

For more information and interviews:
Carolyn Cramer
Media Relations Manager
WWF South Africa
Tel: 021 851 5732
Email: ccramer@wwf.org.za

Source…Nedbank Green Leadership

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