Far away from the group photos, smiles and freshly inked signatures on renewable energy contracts, more than 700km from its Sandton headquarters is the Dorper Wind Farm, between Sterkstroom and Molteno. It is not too far from where I was born, and often, in the eight-hour trip from the Eastern Cape to Johannesburg, if you cast your sights away from the friendly N6 you’ll see a beautiful image of wind turbines clawing through thick-set clouds, as if greeting the heavens. The choice of the name Dorper may be a direct reference to the sheep-rearing heritage of the area. It is one of SA’s poorest areas, a reminder that energy needs are a contested terrain. With online images of community members obediently sitting on plastic chairs in a community hall, one would be forgiven for thinking that the benefit of such programmes is wide-reaching. This is often presented as a counterpoint to Eskom’s coal-hungry, monopolistic tendencies, but the benefit and utility of renewables require greater ...

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