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Germany's Transition to Renewable Energy: A Model for South Africa?

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This paper argues that South Africa is currently unlikely to embark on a clean energy transition similar to that of "Energy Transition" in Germany. The reasons for this centre on the country"s development challenges, the influence of energy sector incumbents, and its young democracy where, contrary to Germany"s experience, there is no similar broad-based citizen"s challenge to South Africa"s energy status quo. In the short term the potential for a clean energy commitment lies with government. Poverty alleviation and the reduction of inequality are cited as South Africa"s policy priorities. The government could only commit to an energy transition if it is convinced that it can better deliver on its poverty and inequality policy objectives through an alternative energy route. Whilst conceptually possible, the development and economic case for this has yet to be convincingly made at a national policy level. The German experience challenges a country like South Africa to focus on the benefits, rather than the risks of taking an unconventional energy path.