How to improve data on energy transition’s employment effects
A sensible and productive employment debate has thus far eluded us
The South African power sector is undergoing a complex structural transition away from a model of regulated, monopolistic, centralised coal-based electricity supply. As a highly unequal middle-income country, the employment implications of this transition are politically and socially significant. A common understanding of what the transition means in terms of employment remains elusive, with vastly different figures being quoted in the media. The South African Wind Energy Association (Sawea) recently commissioned energy consultancy Meridian Economics to survey this literature. The studies differed across numerous dimensions, including the scale of the analysis (such as plant-specific or economy-wide); its timeframe; the metrics used to describe employment impacts (simply "jobs" or "employees" jobs per MWh or MW; jobs per rand invested and total job years); the counterfactual against which the outcomes are considered (the Integrated Resource Plan IRP 2010 or the IRP 2016 or the CSIR ...