Public policy and clean energy venture capital private equity investments in South Africa

Dzenga, Bruce (2013-03)

Thesis (MDF)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In 2007, Bürer and Wüstenhagen (2009) conducted a survey amongst European and United States venture capital and private equity investors (VC/PE) to ascertain their public clean energy policy preference and concluded that VC/PE investors view the feed-in tariff (FIT) scheme to be the most preferred policy option. In this research study, the author re-conducted part of the Bürer and Wüstenhagen (2009) survey with thirty South African VC/PE investors to determine their perceptions on clean energy public policy preference. It is evident from the survey, that opinions are varied and at times even contradictory. This in itself demonstrates an important feature of the South African VC/PE and clean energy industry: it is young, dynamic, changing rapidly and can look very different, depending on the vantage point. The investors surveyed were mainly optimistic about the long-term development of the South African renewable energy industry led by private investors. VC/PE investors in South Africa have mixed views on various investment options, and are concerned about both the regulatory and macro-economic trends. The interviews and survey results show a number of recurring issues. Altogether, the survey results indicate that VC/PE investors consider FITs to be the best public clean energy policy instrument in leveraging private investment and finance for renewable energy in South Africa. This study serves to illustrate and confirm, in line with empirical studies, that VC/PE investors in South Africa believe that clean energy market-pull policies provide an impetus and indeed spur private investor participation in clean energy in developing countries. While it is true that most VC/PE investors would prefer the price certainty associated with a FIT regime, this is almost an irrelevant question in South Africa since constitutionally the state is bound to procure through competitive tendering. This study also serves to highlight the need for more active research and attention in this field.

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