Numsa's interdict a bid to sabotage renewable energy, says Greepeace Africa

Unions block US$4bn of investment in South African renewables to protect coal jobs

The High Court is set to hear the case on March 27, the interdict has stopped Radebe from signing the contracts until the case brought by Numsa and Transform SA is heard.

"All stakeholders should be afforded an opportunity to engage with Eskom, Nersa and the minister on these issues", the union and Transform RSA, a civil-society group, said in the application.

The order is another setback for energy developers including Denham Capital-backed BioTherm Energy and ACWA Power International that have been waiting for deals to be signed since 2016.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and Transform RSA filed court papers preventing the signing, which was scheduled for Tuesday in the wake of a statement from the energy minister last week.

He said that coal is a dying industry that is constantly facing challenges and bleeding jobs.

Numsa's acting spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola explained that Numsa had taken the step of applying for an urgent interdict against the ministry of energy, Eskom, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa and the independent renewable energy providers because these stakeholders were planning to sign these agreements despite the fact that a previous application, by the Coal Transporters Forum to interdict them from signing, was still pending at the North Gauteng High Court.

More news: Forecast: Warm and windy today in the Omaha area

The union alleges that jobs will be lost and that consumers will have to pay more for electricity if the contracts are signed and renewable energy becomes part of the country's power grid.

"The IPP roll out will raise the cost of electricity dramatically, because IPPs cost much more than coal-fired electricity".

"The delayed investment of over R58 billion, the creation of over 13 000 construction jobs and a further 2 000 operations jobs was meant to be unlocked today", says Brenda Martin, CEO of SAWEA. The oldest coal-fired power plants are fifty years old and have already exceeded their expected operational time.

The Unions argue that Eskom now has sufficient generation capacity and that additional renewables would only force coal plants offline, with the loss of jobs.

Today was supposed to be the day South Africa's REIPPPP renewable energy programme got back on track, finalising PPAs for projects that had been left in limbo despite being offered deals as long ago as 2015 under tender rounds 3.5 and 4, after a long-running dispute with state utility Eskom put the entire process on hold.

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