Integrated sustainability transitions framework to guide governance of strategic electricity planning

Mqadi, Lwandle Jackie (2019-04)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY : South Africa’s electricity sector is characterised by the unique social, political and economic legacy of apartheid, which still profoundly impacts decision making and the contemporary politics of sustainability transition. A series of processes is converging to force the issue of sustainability and to drive South Africa’s low-carbon energy transition. The overall research question of this study was: Can a sustainability transition framework be conceptualised to address the challenge of low-carbon electricity transition in South Africa? This was achieved through a critical literature analysis, qualitative system dynamics using causal loop diagrams and stakeholder and expert interviews. From the literature, it was observed that the challenges facing South Africa’s strategic electricity planning result from the related politics, differing views owing to different stakeholder preferences, lack of transparency in electricity planning and misalignment between development policies and objectives. On this basis, the study developed a conceptual integrated electricity sustainability transition framework. From qualitative system dynamics, it was observed that resistance to Integrated Resource Plan development, adoption and overall implementation has contributed negatively to the electricity sustainability transition agenda. Further, ongoing interventions merely deal with symptoms rather than the root cause of the Integrated Resources Plan challenges. It is in this context that this study engaged with the stakeholder and various experts and reviewed the strategic electricity planning process in South Africa, taking into consideration the socio-political economy complexity challenges within an established theoretical sustainability transition framework. The study finally recommends for the need to entrench the integrated electricity sustainability transition framework into the existing Integrated Resources Plan approach in South Africa. This would ensure that the complex sustainability policy objectives are aligned within the electricity planning process. An examination of implementation feasibility and relevance of the proposed conceptual framework affirmed the persistent resistance towards Integrated Resources Plan development and its adoption as well as how its implementation has negatively impacted the electricity sustainability transition agenda. Further, the study established that a policy governance-driven framework, embedded in South Africa’s Integrated Resources Plan approach, is vital to tackle issues of policy and governance, transparency, vested interests and associated politics, alignment, stakeholder engagement and monitoring and evaluation.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Suid-Afrika se elektrisiteitsektor word gekenmerk deur die unieke maatskaplike, politieke en ekonomiese erfenis van apartheid, wat stil ʼn diepgaande impak op besluitneming en die hedendaagse politiek van volhoubare oordrag het. ʼn Reeks prosesse loop ineen om die kwessie van volhoubaarheid af te dwing en om Suid-Afrika se oorgang na laekoolstof-energie aan te dryf. Die oorhoofse navorsingsvraag van hierdie studie was: Kan ʼn volhoubaarheidsoorgangsraamwerk gekonseptualiseer word om die uitdaging van oorgang na laekoolstof-elektrisiteit in Suid-Afrika aan te pak? Dit is bereik deur ʼn kritiese literatuurontleding, kwalitatiewe stelseldinamika met die gebruik van kousale lusdiagramme en onderhoude met belanghebbendes en kundiges. Uit die literatuur is waarneem dat die uitdagings vir Suid-Afrika se strategiese elektrisiteitsbeplanning uit die verbonde politiek, uiteenlopende sieninge weens wisselende voorkeure van belanghebbendes, ʼn gebrek aan deursigtigheid in elektrisiteitsbeplanning en wanooreenstemming tussen ontwikkelingsbeleide en -doelstellings spruit. Op hierdie grondslag is ʼn konseptuele volhoubaarheidsoorgangsraamwerk ontwikkel. Uit kwalitatiewe stelseldinamika is waargeneem dat weerstand teen die ontwikkeling, aanvaarding en algehele implementering van die Geïntegreerde Hulpbronplan (GHP) negatief tot die agenda van elektrisiteitsvolhoubaarheidsoorgang bygedra het. Voorts hanteer voortgesette intervensies bloot simptome eerder as die grondoorsaak van die GHP-uitdagings. In hierdie konteks is belanghebbende spesialiste betrek en is die strategiese elektrisiteitsbeplanningsproses in Suid-Afrika geëvalueer, met inagname van die uitdagings van die kompleksiteit van die sosiopolitieke ekonomie in ʼn gevestigde teoretiese volhoubaarheidsoorgangsraamwerk. ʼn Argument word gevoer vir die noodsaaklikheid om die volhoubaarheidsoorgangsraamwerk in die bestaande GHP-beleidsbeplanningsontwikkelingsbenadering in Suid-Afrika te veranker. Dit sal verseker dat die komplekse volhoubaarheidsbeleidsdoelstellings in ooreenstemming met die elektrisiteitsbeplanningsproses is. ʼn Ondersoek van die volhoubaarheid van implementering en die toepaslikheid van die voorgenome konseptuele raamwerk het die volhardende weerstand teen GHP-ontwikkeling en -aanvaarding bevestig, asook dat die implementering daarvan ʼn negatiewe impak op die agenda vir elektrisiteitsvolhoubaarheidsoorgang gehad het. Die studie het ook bepaal dat ʼn beleids- en bestuursgedrewe raamwerk, veranker in Suid-Afrika se GHP-beleidsbeplanningsontwikkeling, noodsaaklik is om kwessies van beleid en bestuur, deursigtigheid, gevestigde belange en verbonde politiek, inlynstelling, betrokkenheid van belanghebbendes en monitering en evaluering aan te pak.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/105648
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