The success story of residential solar energy in Cape Town

Nox­o­lo Kabane, par­tic­i­pant of the COBENEFITS Online Train­ing, South Africa

In this part of our series Co-ben­e­fits Sto­ries, Nox­o­lo Kabane tells how renew­ables cre­ate an oppor­tu­ni­ty for clean, afford­able and sus­tain­able ener­gy in South Africa. For this series, we have asked ener­gy pro­fes­sion­als that have par­tic­i­pat­ed in our train­ings for their thoughts and expe­ri­ences on co-ben­e­fits of renew­able ener­gy in their country.

“Accord­ing to my obser­va­tion of what is hap­pen­ing in my coun­try, the eco­nom­ic, polit­i­cal and social co-ben­e­fits would increase the chances of renew­able ener­gy projects. Cur­rent­ly, South Africa is expe­ri­enc­ing a lot of chal­lenges when it comes to ener­gy pro­duc­tion because “main­stream” ener­gy sup­ply and reserves are not cop­ing with the demand. I think this is an oppor­tune time for the coun­try to bring renew­able ener­gy onto the grid because of the ener­gy secu­ri­ty that renew­able ener­gy can unlock. Sec­ond­ly, house­holds would have an oppor­tu­ni­ty of access­ing clean, afford­able and sus­tain­able energy.

The unem­ploy­ment rate in South Africa is cur­rent­ly sit­ting at 30.1%. There­fore, with the increase in renew­able ener­gy projects, more jobs can be cre­at­ed. There is also an oppor­tu­ni­ty of skilling young peo­ple to be entre­pre­neurs in the sec­tor. I have seen the ben­e­fits of the iShack Project that is being imple­ment­ed in Cape Town which is a large-scale ener­gy ser­vice that pro­vides pay-for-use solar elec­tric­i­ty ser­vice to res­i­dents of infor­mal set­tle­ments. This ini­tia­tive has pro­vid­ed house­holds with a sus­tain­able alter­na­tive to access ener­gy. Res­i­dents in oth­er infor­mal set­tle­ments have even called on the gov­ern­ment to pro­vide them with the same or sim­i­lar ener­gy sources because they saw that the ben­e­fits out­weigh the dis­ad­van­tages. As you can see from this exam­ple, the instal­la­tion of renew­able ener­gy has cre­at­ed agency and resilience amongst communities.“

Based on insights of the COBENEFITS research group, the Renew­ables Acad­e­my (RENAC) cur­rent­ly con­ducts train­ings in Turkey, Kenya, South Africa and Mex­i­co. Par­tic­i­pants learn about co-ben­e­fits of renew­able ener­gy in cli­mate change mit­i­ga­tion, tools to quan­ti­fy and com­mu­ni­cate social and eco­nom­ic oppor­tu­ni­ties and poli­cies and instru­ments to mobilise them.