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Energy Minister talks up renewables, proposes closer BRICS cooperation

Jun 28 2018 22:30
Jan Cronje

Minister of Energy Jeff Radebe proposed closer cooperation between BRICS countries on energy when he opened the third BRICS meeting of Energy Ministers in Johannesburg on Thursday. 

"In light of the reality that the global energy transition impacts directly on our own respective plans and policies, it is an opportune time to consider extending BRICS cooperation on energy beyond energy savings and energy efficiency," said Radebe, according to his prepared remarks. 

Radebe noted that BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – had already agreed to increase cooperation, particularly in the filed of clean energy.  

The cooperation agreement is included in the 'Strategy For BRICS Economic Partnership', a document adopted at the 2015 Leaders' Summit.

It promises that BRICS countries will work together to "promote efficient and environmentally friendly use of fossil fuels in the BRICS countries", which includes cooperation in exploration and development of technologies aimed at hard-to-recover resources extraction. 

The countries also agreed to increase cooperation in the joint development and sharing of energy efficient and cleaner energy technologies. 

On Thursday Radebe said that inter-BRICS energy collaboration should be expanded to include things like renewable energy, energy storage, electric vehicles and natural gas. 

He also proposed that a committee be established to advance BRICS mutual energy activities, and the countries pursue closer cooperation via already-established channels such as the BRICS Business Council and the New Development Bank.

"This will also require collective action with a view to improving alignment between BRICS national energy focal points and relevant multilateral fora supportive of the global energy transition and increased energy security," he said. 

While Radebe was addressing the summit, power utility Eskom and unions were stuck in another day of wage negotiations. 

The cash-strapped power utility originally proposed a wage freeze for its employees, citing strained finances. After employees threatened to strike, this was changed to a 4.7% increase, and then a 5% increase. These were in turn rejected by employees

Some unions have also criticised state plans to include more renewable energy in SA's energy mix - something which Radede played up on Thursday - arguing it would waste money and lead to fewer jobs in the coal mining industry. 

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