Rethinking strategic sustainability planning for the electricity sector in South Africa

Mqadi, L. J. ; Musango, J. K. ; Brent, Alan C. (2018)

CITATION: Mqadi, L. J., Musango, J. K & Brent, A. C. 2018. Rethinking strategic sustainability planning for the electricity sector in South Africa. South African Journal of Industrial Engineering, 29(1):63-73, doi:10.7166/29-1-1654.

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ENGLISH ABSTRACT: A series of processes is now converging to force the issue of sustainability to drive South Africa’s low-carbon energy transitions. This raises the question of how a ‘sustainability transition’ framework can be conceptualised to address the challenge of low-carbon electricity transitions in South Africa. This paper, therefore, critically reviews the strategic electricity planning process in South Africa within an established sustainability transitions theoretical framework. From the literature, it is observed that the challenges facing South Africa’s strategic electricity planning resulted from the related politics, from differing views owing to different stakeholder preferences and lack of transparency in terms of electricity planning, and from a lack of, or misalignment between, development policies and objectives. All these theoretical and practical gaps reveal that South Africa must rethink its current strategic electricity planning practice, especially considering the country’s political economy. This paper, therefore, proposes a conceptual complexity-planning framework to ensure that the complex sustainability policy objectives are aligned within the electricity planning process.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: ’n Reeks prosesse konvergeer nou om die kwessie van volhoubaarheid, en Suid-Afrika se lae-koolstof energie-oorgange, aan te spoor. Dit laat die vraag ontstaan hoe ’n raamwerk vir ‘volhoubaarheid oorgange’ gekonseptualiseer kan word, om die uitdaging van ’n lae-koolstof elektrisiteit oorgang in Suid-Afrika aan te spreek. Hierdie artikel verskaf dan ’n kritiese oorsig oor die strategiese elektrisiteit beplanningsproses in Suid-Afrika, opgestel in ’n gevestigde volhoubaarheid oorgange teoretiese raamwerk. Uit die literatuur is dit opgemerk dat die uitdagings in Suid-Afrika se strategiese elektrisiteit beplanning ’n gevolg is van die verwante politiek, verskillende sienings as gevolg van verskillende voorkeure van belanghebbendes in terme van die beplanning van elektrisiteit, en ’n gebrek aan, of uitlynfout tussen, ontwikkelingsbeleid en doelwitte. Al hierdie teoretiese en praktiese leemtes toon dat Suid-Afrika sy huidige strategiese elektrisiteit beplanning praktyk moet herbesin, veral met inagneming van die politieke ekonomie van die land. Die artikel stel dus ’n konseptuele kompleksiteit-beplanningsraamwerk voor om belyning van verskillende, mededingende, en komplekse volhoubaarheid beleid doelwitte te verseker binne die elektrisiteit beplanningsproses.

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