Renewable energy production as means for local economic development in eThekwini Municipality.
Radebe, Nokukhanya Thobeka.
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Given South Africa’s increasing demand for energy, insufficient generation capacity, dependence on imported oil, and sensitivity to global economic shocks, the need for renewable and sustainable energy systems is clear. The South African government recognizes that substantial opportunities exist for electricity and energy generation through the production and use of renewable energy resources. In recognizing that local authorities are primary agents for electricity service provision, the national treasury has committed to supporting local renewable energy programs. Renewable energy resources are widely seen as means to address the challenges of climate change and energy insecurity; and can be of key importance in the development of a sustainable society. Renewable energy resources can provide new economic opportunities, contribute to higher standards of living and reduce the impacts of society on ecosystems, among other things. South Africa is ranked as the country with the high potential for the use of renewables. Great pressure is placed on the national government to initiate a way of achieving greater economic growth as well as alleviating poverty. A mandate has therefore been given to local government to play a role in achieving this, Local economic development, a relatively new approach to development, is currently seen as a prominent strategy to tackle the problem of unemployment in South Africa. A literature review is thus presented in the study that addresses the different type’s renewable energy resources available and the links between local economic development and employment creation through renewable energy resources provision. The study used the Ecological Modernisation theory that can be used as a theoretical lens to examine the phenomenon of renewable energy adoption, it addresses the theoretical framework. An investigation into the background of the eThekwini Energy Office is provided and serves as a departure point from which to critically examine the ways in which renewable energy initiatives of the eThekwini Municipality contribute to local economic development. The findings address the ways in which renewable energy adoption can play a part in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, an assessment of renewable energy production is provided based on the results of the qualitative data analysis. Key Words: Local economic development, green economy, renewable energy, ecological modernisation.
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