Stephanie Borchardt

PhD Student

Project Title: Power to the People? A case study of local energy challenges in a national renewable energy hub in De Aar, Northern Cape Province.

Stef’s overarching interest is in the potential of South Africa’s renewable energy sector to contribute to sustainable development at the local as well as national level.  Her research focuses on exploring the energy needs and challenges that poor households face in De Aar, in the Northern Cape, in relation to the significant national and international investment in renewable energy which is currently taking place around the town, as part of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP). Her MA thesis was successfully upgraded to a Ph.D. in January 2020. While household energy poverty will remain a core focus, her proposed PhD will expand in two main ways:

1. It will relate the energy poverty that she has  already established is endemic among poor households in De Aar to the challenges facing the Emthanjeni Local Municipality in managing both electricity (and other basic infrastructure) and its relationships with the independent power producers (IPPs) that are active in the municipality; 2. It will also relate the local energy challenges in De Aar more closely to the current policy, political and academic debates on the national electricity crisis in South Africa and requirements for a ‘just transition’ to more sustainable forms of energy generation. These national debates will, in turn, be framed in relation to global concerns around global warming and South Africa’s heavy carbon footprint.

Stef enrolled for a BA Humanities degree at Stellenbosch University which she completed in 2015. In 2016, Stef completed her honours in Sociology on the public participation process of shale gas development in the Karoo.

She is currently enrolled as a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at Stellenbosch University.

Keywords: Renewable Energy, Household energy usage, Sustainable Development, Karoo