Energy is a topic of great interest to all South Africans. The Economies of Regions Learning Network (ERLN) together with SEA/SALGA/SACN Urban Energy Network held an event entitled “Local and sub-national renewable energy and energy efficiency: Challenges and opportunities for economic development”. The central question being “Can we stimulate renewable energy (RE) and energy efficiency (EE) markets in a manner that is developmental and equitable whilst being sustainable for municipalities?”
To this end, the event explored: Potentials for regional economic development through RE and EE trading systems and infrastructure Energy security and resilience at a sub-national/municipal level Challenges and opportunities for municipal revenue in context of RE and EE The energy value chain and working across spheres and agencies towards a coordinated and constructive response This event focused not only on a local perspective, but also acknowledged that around the world local, embedded generation and energy efficiency is having a dramatic impact on traditional energy models – shifting the focus from energy supply to energy demand as increasingly energy becomes a personal choice. There are dangers of the poor and substantial infrastructural investments being stranded. Hence the key questions and focus areas. The event considered some of the research being done in this area and the findings of the latest State of Energy in SA cities. It reflected on how we can learn from experiments with wheeling, demand side management, local scale power production (amongst others) and what these might point to in terms of new economic development challenges and opportunities.