South Africa’s renewable energy sector is celebrating final victory in a years-long legal battle with the country's coal lobby over wind and solar contracts.

The country’s Supreme Court of Appeal refused South Africa’s Coal Transporters Forum (CTF) leave to appeal a 2019 court decision rejecting an application to set aside power purchase agreements (PPAs) struck between state utility Eskom and more than 2GW of wind and solar projects successful under Round 4 of the national REIPPPP procurement programme.

The South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA), which led the renewables sector’s defence to the action, which first began in 2017, said the latest decision closes the final door to a “legal challenge that was launched on the basis of arguments which had no legal basis, and which demonstrated little appreciation of government’s clear commitment to achieving a more diverse energy mix”.

The CTF – which represents coal truckers – had argued the PPAs were concluded without following due process, in an action that swept up some of the biggest names in global renewables, including Enel and Mainstream Renewable Power.

The energy transition is centre stage in South Africa against the background of power blackouts that have plagued the country over recent years, the fragile state of Eskom and the highly politically-sensitive issue of jobs in the coal sector.

South Africa’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) – unveiled in late 2019, which sets the policy framework for the next 10 years – envisages 14.4GW of additional wind and 6GW of PV as renewables account for the bulk of the country’s new capacity.

The sector hopes the nation will soon move to hold a fifth round of REIPPPP tendering.