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Kieran Whyte

Kieran Whyte is a partner in the Baker McKenzie's Johannesburg office. He has over 25 years' experience working in South Africa and Africa, with particular focus on energy and infrastructure projects. Kieran represents project sponsors, developers, contractors and lenders in complex greenfield and brownfield developments, advising on citing, permitting and regulatory concerns. He has advised on numerous first-in-kind projects associated with the South African government's Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme. Kieran is experienced in all aspects of project development and is recognized in his field by legal directories including Chambers and Legal 500.

At COP 27 in November 2022, South Africa launched its new Just Energy Transition Investment Plan and announced a five-year investment plan for the USD 8.5 billion financing package, which was announced as part of the country’s Just Energy Transition Partnership with France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union at COP 26. The JET IP is aligned with the Cabinet-approved National Just Transition Framework and outlines the investments required to achieve the country’s decarbonization commitments, while promoting sustainable development, and ensuring a just transition for affected workers and communities.

The Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment in South Africa has published a notice excluding the development and expansion of solar photovoltaic facilities, including any associated activity or infrastructure from the requirement to obtain environmental authorization in terms of the National Environmental Management Act. Members of the public have 30 days from the date of publication (8 September 2022) to submit comments on the draft notice. The proposed exclusion for solar photovoltaic facilities presents opportunities for independent, small-scale power producers and is considered to be a step forward for the government in terms of its commitment to energy transition and to securing a reliable supply of clean energy in the country.

In February this year, the South African Hydrogen Society Roadmap was published by the South African government. This is the culmination of efforts spread over many years. As the country navigates its energy transition, the Roadmap is considered to be an important marker on its path towards implementing hydrogen development, which is envisaged to be at the centre of South Africa’s strategy for economic growth and mitigating climate change.

As an essential component of South Africa’s energy transition, the production, transport, storage and use of green hydrogen, has been the subject of numerous policy updates and public and private sector commitments in the country, especially in the last year. The timeline of developments is not expected to slow down as South Africa zeroes in on solutions to its energy crisis that enables it to also address climate change and deliver on its decarbonization targets.

South Africa received the positive news on 10 June 2021 that the threshold for self-generation power project licenses would increase to 100 MW. This is a welcomed and long-awaited development in a country that has been plagued by power supply challenges, which have had a significant impact on the private sector and are contributing to the impediment of much-needed economic growth in South Africa.