A new learning and innovation hub to develop the skills and knowledge of social-performance practitioners in South Africa’s renewable-energy sector has been officially launched.
Known as the Initiative for Social Performance in Renewable Energy, or INSPIRE, the venture aims to improving the effectiveness and sustainability of the enterprise and socioeconomic development initiatives undertaken by independent power producers (IPPs).
The initiative is being implemented by Synergy Global Consulting in partnership with the South Africa Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) and the South Africa Photovoltaic Industry Association, with support from Actis, Lekela and BTE Renewables.
Since the launch, in 2011, of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), IPPs have spent R460-million on enterprise development and R1.5-billion on socioeconomic development as part of commitments made during the various bid windows.
However, SAWEA CEO Ntombifuthi Ntuli says that, while these initiatives have been positive for communities, they have been driven primarily by compliance rather than impact.
“We expect the INSPIRE initiative to help the industry move from ticking boxes and reporting on spending to a focus on what impact we are making in communities,” Ntuli explained during a virtual launch.
To increase impact, IPPs and social-performance practitioners will be expected to collaborate more on these projects, as well as those being pursued by companies operating in close proximity, but in other sectors, such as mining.
Synergy Global Consulting’s Dr Holle Wlokas said that the REIPPPP had been pioneering in its embedding of enterprise and socioeconomic development as a qualifying criteria, but policies and scorecards alone could not ensure the delivery of impactful projects.
Through the new initiative it was anticipated that the skills, knowledge and innovation needed to realise the transformational socioeconomic benefits of renewables could be developed.