“The single most successful Public Private Partnership on the African continent for the past 20 years”. This has been the national and international acclaim for South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme (REIPPP), which has already yielded billions of dollars of direct investment and generated more than 5 GW of energy. An integral part of this programme has been the weighting aspects of the State’s bidding system, with strict Local Content Requirements being enacted by the Department of Trade and Industry to stimulate growth of a domestic manufacturing industry. UCT PhD student Richard Fyvie is conducting a study into the growth and development of higher order technical skills within the wind industry technology of the REIPPP Program, focussing on Scientific and Engineering professions.
Richard’s PhD in Energy Studies at the Energy Research Centre (ERC) at the University of Cape Town is being supervised by Dr Britta Rennkamp. A network analysis of industry roleplayers, the study involves semi-structured interviews with over 70 stakeholders from government departments, project developers, academia, foreign funding agencies, original equipment manufacturers, consulting and contracting firms. He is using a Technological Innovation Systems (TIS) analysis approach, ranging from Pre-Development studies to Development, Construction and Operational windfarm stages with a time series tracking component of Bidding Rounds 1 – 5, and a capabilities approach to review the origins of the skills set utilised to develop the wind programme in South Africa. Thus he is examining aspects such as knowledge transferability of individuals from other industries, focused research at tertiary institutions, the degree of foreign skill emplacement into the local market, and bottlenecks in the engineering and scientific skills pipeline. The study explores the case for focused government policy in developing “gateway professions” towards the stimulation of wider employment growth.