Addressing community energy challenges with utility scale renewables: A case study of Hopefield Wind Farm.

Author(s): Kyle Swartz
Link to CST author(s):
Publication: University of Stellenbosch
Year: 2019
Full reference: Swartz, K. 2019. Addressing community energy challenges with utility scale renewables: A case study of Hopefield Wind Farm.


This thesis documents how a utility-scale renewable energy project has addressed community energy challenges through the development of a wind farm as part of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP). The implementation of the REIPPPP in South Africa has been designed for the procurement to secure additional renewable energy capacity and makes allowance for local beneficiation to the country. The procurement framework mandates successful independent power producers (IPPs) to spend a percentage of annual income in local communities found within a 50-kilometre radius of a renewable energy project site. It prescribes that this percentage of annual income be used on socio-economic development (SED) and enterprise development (ED) in surrounding communities that are commonly implemented through the practice of community development. Despite well-intended community beneficiation stemming from the programme, early reports have highlighted several challenges that IPPs experience in integrating social and economic development as part of their core business operations. Challenges range from a lack of guidance from the government regarding the practice of social and economic development to poor engagement with communities over upliftment projects accrued to them. These challenges hamper the potentially transformative social and economic development considerations of the REIPPPP. This masters research study showcases how the SED and ED funds, stemming from the Hopefield Wind Farm (owned by Umoya Energy) and arising as a result of its participation within the REIPPPP, have addressed community energy challenges experienced in the beneficiary town of Hopefield. Presented as a narrative analysis, the case study showcases the particular leadership style Umoya Energy undertook in its community engagement process. This resulted in positive outcomes for the community in the form of a strategic project that responds to the energy challenges faced in the beneficiary community, while at the same time addressing other common challenges faced, such as unemployment.