The South African energy supply is highly centralised and largely coal-fired. A
transition to renewable energy sources is essential if the country is to adapt to
the environmental, social, and economic challenges of climate change. Together
with private-sector partners, the South African Government has embarked on a
Renewable Energy Independent Power Production programme. However, the
volume of private investment in renewable energy generation is still low. This article
investigates the major risks and barriers to renewable energy market development.
Political risk, human capacity, and corruption, are identified as the most serious
and likely risks, as well as the barriers stakeholders perceive in the deployment
of renewable energy sources, including governance gaps. The identified risks
present obstacles to optimum market development for renewable energy and the
attraction of sustainable private investment. The findings suggest that policy should
focus more on managing the interface between private and the public partners,
through increased consensus building, greater transparency, enhanced stakeholder
management, more effective administration and improved decision-making.