Donovan John Thomas • Wind industry too ‘white’ for government?
Published in: Legalbrief Environmental
Date: Tue 07 September 2010
Issue No: 0179
There is unofficial talk of government displeasure at the white face of the wind industry, writes
Ingi Salgado, environmental journalist, in the Cape Times.
Wind developers in SA are white-dominated, and this is reflected in the composition of the board of the SA Wind Energy Association (its six members are all white men). However, she points out the wind industry sees the race card as a red herring. One developer says there is currently too much policy uncertainty to secure empowerment partners, but this will change significantly once licences are near to being awarded. Licence criteria for wind farms currently under development by the National Energy Regulator of SA in fact stipulate that proposals not meeting minimum requirements for broad-based black economic empowerment will be disqualified. It is worth pointing out that an absence of local empowerment partners has not at this stage stopped the government or Eskom from talking to international nuclear companies with their eyes on a fleet of nuclear plants on SA terrain, Salgado says. One also can’t dismiss the observation that many SA political leaders, or members of their families, have financial interests in the mining industry, which has much to lose from a focused switch away from fossil fuels towards renewable sources. Those links haven’t yet been forged in the renewable energy space. Renewable energy is clearly no magic panacea for all of SA’s problems, she argues. But it’s an obvious place to start if our goal is to ensure the next generation of South Africans have sufficient quantities of clean water, affordable access to energy and a chance to help prevent global warming.