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African feed-in tariffs in the spotlight

Since South Africa introduced a feed-in tariff (FiT) scheme last year the question of how to extend similar renewable energy schemes throughout the content is on the table.

The Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) and its sub-network, The Sustainable Energy Regulation Network (SERN), have hosted workshops in Johannesburg, South Africa, for energy regulators, utilities and policy-makers from 14 African countries to consider how to design and implement long-term renewable energy support schemes such as feed-in tariffs in Africa.

Several factors were identified as being of key importance if a secure renewable energy scheme is to be successful in Africa.

Firstly it is important to have an energy planning framework which contains a renewable energy obligation for utilities.

Secondly it is necessary to integrate regulations on priority grid access, make long-term purchase contracts, and set prices to both encourage renewable energy technologies, and to gradually decline towards grid parity over time.

In addition, concerns were raised regarding that fact that in low- and medium-income countries there remains the overriding question of how to finance renewable energy subsidies generally.

Thembani Bukula, Head of Electricity Regulation, South African National Energy Regulator, says: "Knowledge-sharing for regulators is a critical element for ensuring that feed-in tariffs are structured in a way that fits the African context.”

Whilst knowledge-sharing is of vital importanc,e the event also highlighted the necessity for each renewable energy to be scheme country-specific. Items to consider include the selection of the renewable energy technologies relevant to a particular country or region, tariff-setting in a way to support a country’s goals and the types of institutions needed to manage all types of renewable energy financial support mechanisms

REEEP is a non-profit organisation that funds clean energy projects in developing countries and emerging markets. Its sub-network SERN facilitates exchange of experience and knowledge between regulators and government officials on promoting sustainable energy, coordinated by researchers at Warwick University in the UK.

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