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Legal and policy barriers to renewable and sustainable energy sources in South Africa

ABSTRACT

Renewable energy is growing worldwide in terms of generation capacity and investment inflows. However, barriers to the transition to renewable energy remain in many countries. This article analyses the barriers to renewable energy in South Africa in the context of global growth, which in 2014, saw South Africa in the top 10 of investments into renewable energy. Regulation through law has potential to address many of the barriers to renewable energy, but investors should understand the nature and extent of these barriers to guide future investment decisions into renewable energy. Law is one of the social, regulatory, and economic instruments that can be used to control and shape development. However, in South Africa the energy and environmental law and policy have not sufficiently addressed the obstacles to renewable energy technologies. Cheap fossil fuel energy led to short-term economic growth, which, in the long term, is not environmentally sustainable. While a lot has been done to enable renewable energy, challenges remain that may make it difficult for investors and foreign corporations to enter the South African renewable energy market. This article concludes that, while the context (socio-economic and political) of obstacles to renewable energy is relevant, legal and policy barriers are overriding and should be the focus of effort in order to create an enabling regulatory environment.