Research Reports

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Funded and Supported by USAID
  • A feasibility study exploring energy access through community-led socially owned renewable energy development in South Africa

    2022 - Sustainable Energy Africa

    This report follows the format of first introducing the national and local energy development landscape as a background context for the study. It then deepens its focus on energy use in municipalities, covering the energy service delivery status of the 2 study municipalities (technical and policy elements), household energy use patterns of low-income households in these municipalities, followed by a brief review of lessons from international and local community energy projects.

  • South Africa’s contested transition to energy democracy?

    2022 - Megan Davies, Holle Wlokas, Nina Callaghan and Mark Swilling

    This report offers a collection of insights emerging from the national large-scale renewable energy programmme.

  • The social performance approach: Fostering community well-being through energy-sector investments

    2021 - Grace Mbungu and Sebastian Helgenberger

    This paper develops a social performance approach for energy-sector investments and energy project development. In essence, this puts the needs and well-being of people – including current and future generations – at the centre of energy development and related investments and activities. The approach can help determine whether (or not) the development and implementation of energy projects (e.g., a renewable wind park, decentralised energy services such as solar mini-grids, or a coal-mining site) and the usage of locally generated energy directly contributes to the livelihoods and prospects of local communities.

  • The social performance index (SPI): Assessing and monitoring community well-being through energy sector investments

    2021 - Sebastian Helgenberger, Grace Mbungu, Héctor Rodríguez, Almudena Nunez

    This paper outlines the Social Performance Approach, offering a new perspective
    on understanding and shaping energy sector investments for the benefit of people and communities.


  • The role of local government in the community engagement of a renewable energy company in South Africa

    2021 - Bryan Michael, Kenneth Robinson and Siân Stephens

    The research investigated community engagement within the tripartite relationship of a wind farm, the communities around it, and the local government. It was found that local government played a moderating role in the community engagement efforts of the wind farm, which had to comply with certain engagement protocols determined by local government.

  • Scaling the just transition for community-based and community-placed projects

    2021 - Fumani Mthembi

    This paper explores the question of scaling Just Transition community projects, blending historical and empirical perspectives. Through an assessment of the design, funding, implementation and maintenance of such projects, the paper articulates the constraints and opportunities for South Africa’s historically disadvantaged communities. South Africa is indeed not new transition projects and, in some ways, can be argued to still be going through a version of its original post-Apartheid transition.

  • INSPIRE insights into the maturity of social performance in renewable energy in South Africa

    2021 - Synergy-Global Consulting

    This research report aims to specifically explore the skills gaps and training needs amongst economic development practitioners in South Africa’s Renewable Energy Programme.

  • Integrating community development in public procurement of renewable energy generation

    2021 - Mikkel Funder, Holle Linnea Wlokas and Holm Olsen

    This policy brief provides lessons learnt and associated recommendations from one particular attempt to address this issue, namely South Africa’s efforts to incorporate community development as a criteria in the auction schemes through which renewable energy is procured. This policy is implemented through the nationwide REIPPP programme, which is among the few of its kind globally.

  • Communities in transition report

    2021 - Intellidex

    Intellidex has conducted a research project into community trusts set up under South Africa’s renewable energy independent power producer procurement programme (REIPPPP). The research was funded by FirstRand.

  • Accelerating renewable industrialisation in South Africa: What’s stopping us?

    2020 - Celeste Renaud, Dr Emily Tyler, Adam Roff and Dr Grové Steyn

    This report presents the results of a study which unpacks some of the major political, institutional, regulatory and social barriers to renewable energy deployment in South Africa. It also provides some insight into proposed means of addressing these barriers to facilitate accelerated industrialisation in the renewable energy sector.

Disclaimer: This project is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this project are the sole responsibility of the Initiative for Social Performance in Renewable Energy (INSPIRE) and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.