The Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) White Paper of 1994 laid the foundation for South Africa?s developmental trajectory, focussing inter alia on providing basic water-, electricity-, health care- and education infrastructure and services, to all the people of South Africa. In South Africa, the Government has over the last 20 years been able to provide at least a basic level of electricity service to 86% of the people, with the remaining backlog mainly lying in the rural areas of the country, where topography, location and available technology pose challenges to being able to extend the distribution grid. The Department of Energy (DoE) estimates that the total number of non-grid household connections to be connected between 2014 and 2025 amounts to approximately 300 000. Taking into consideration that between 2002 and 2013, approximately 68 000 non-grid household connections, mainly through stand-alone solar home systems were made, the non-grid electrification programme will need to scale-up considerably; to approximately 25 000 per annum for the period between 2013 and 2025.
The DoE?s ?New Household Electrification Strategy? allows for any appropriate and affordable technology option to be applied towards achieving the non-grid electrification target.
An appropriate energy solution could entail the application of small-scale hydropower (SHP) technology, either on its own or in hybrid formation, in conjunction with a mini-grid distribution system.
Based on personal experience, risk management on any project is paramount to ensure the success of a project; with risks commonly being identified within specific project work-streams. Risks associated with technical and financial work-streams can traditionally be clearly quantified and mitigated, whereas risks associated with institutional work-streams are often more challenging to identify, quantify and mitigate due to subjective and often political influences.
The necessity therefore of understanding the institutional environment within which small-scale hydropower projects would be implemented, in order to navigate through the complex maze of South Africa?s vertically- and horizontally co-ordinated Government architecture, is important. It was hypothesised that South Africa?s robust legislative-, policy- and planning architecture would allow socially driven stand-alone, small-scale hydropower projects with mini-grids, to provide electricity to those sparsely populated areas with low demand potential where it is not economically feasible to provide grid connected electricity.
The primary objective of the research was to develop an institutional roadmap illustrating potential approaches for the implementation of small-scale hydropower electricity generation and distribution projects within the ambit of South Africa?s complex legislative-, policy- and planning environment; towards achieving an accelerated rate of delivery of non-grid electrification connections in the deep rural areas of South Africa.
The Study considered National Government planning- and legislation across sectors that have an influence on rural electrification projects, as well as the point where all the national planning, legislation, policies and strategies are to be implemented and operationalised at Local Government level.
This institutional setting within which rural electrification projects in South Africa would need to be implemented, is applied to analyse ownership and operator model options, specifically focussed on small-scale hydropower projects with a mini-grid distribution system.
The outcome of the Study showed that within the ambit of South Africa?s current legislative-, policy- and planning environment in South Africa, potential approaches to opportunities exist to implement socially driven, small-scale hydropower projects, as part of the ?New Household Electrification Strategy?.
Dissertation (MEng)--University of Pretoria, 2016.