The warning came as enabling economic transformation and job creation through energy generation projects came under the spotlight at the African Utility Week conference and exhibition in Cape Town.
Dr Ric Amansureck, an expert involved in research about the impact of renewable energy projects on communities, told delegates that neglecting local communities as key stakeholders in such projects could degenerate into protest action similar to those on service delivery issues, where infrastructure got destroyed.
“If we fail to deal with this issue, we will see another ‘Marikana’ happening in the renewable energy space,” he warned.
Some 34 protesting miners were killed after police opened fire at a troubled mine northwest of South Africa in 2012. It was the single most lethal use of force by South African security forces in decades.
In total, 47 people were killed during the tensions between forces and the miners.
Christoph Heinemann, Chief Executive Officer of Kaco New Energy Africa, also bemoaned in locals were often excluded.
He questioned, the principle of “power to the people”.
“Suppliers prefer bigger projects, and the bigger the project the easier it is to keep people out,” Heinemann said.
He proposed a more decentralised approach to bring power generation closer to people.
Gareth Burley, Sales and Marketing Manager at Microcare, stressed the importance of including local innovation and manufacturing in renewable energy.
“Any discussions over energy will be in trouble if it does not include local innovation, youth employment and skills development,” Burley warned.
– CAJ News