Signing of South Africa’s much-awaited renewable-energy project delayed by pending court judgement

Proposed renewable-energy project deals to be signed between South Africa and 27 independent players delayed over inconclusive court ruling.

The 56 billion-rand ($4.7 billion) worth of investment that is expected to create over 60,000 jobs, 95% which will be beneficial to South Africans, was put on hold a after a court postponed a ruling on a labour union application to block the deals.

At first, state-owned electricity firm Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. stalled for more than two years on the government-brokered deals to buy renewable power from private generation projects, with executives saying it was expensive and not always available.

This time the delay is caused by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and Transform RSA who applied for an interdict on Monday, to prevent state-owned utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd.

According to NUMSA, the signing of these contracts would be detrimental for the working class and would threaten jobs and coal-fired plants. However, the government argues that renewable energy will stimulate economic growth and diversify South Africa’s power mix.

Initially the Energy Minister Jeff Radebe was to sign the contract with independent power producers on Tuesday. Pending when both sides submit further arguments, the court is scheduled to hold a hearing on March 27.