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Making renewable energy affordable: the South African Renewables Initiative

South Africa has a predominantly coal-fired electricity system and ever-growing energy needs. However, the use of renewable energy resources for electricity generation is currently almost non-existent. The South Africa Renewables Initiative (SARi) and the SARi International Partnership, launched in 2011, aim to develop financing arrangements that enable the development of renewable energy sources in South Africa. This ‘Inside stories on climate compatible development’ by the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) explores some of the challenges faced by the initiative, in particular relating to financing the incremental costs of renewables in a context of political and social opposition to rising energy prices. The brief describes the first steps of South Africa’s energy transition and draws out key lessons for other countries, especially for other big emerging economies in the process of introducing renewable energy.