The government, which on March 8 announced its intent to sign 27 outstanding deals, has taken steps to prioritize partnerships with the private sector just weeks after President Cyril Ramaphosa took office and made his own appointments, including Energy Minister Jeff Radabe, to the Cabinet.
"Further, while such review applications are possible, they will undoubtedly have serious implications and quite probably result in harm to a number of persons, including potentially the affected employees, contractors and public at large which will be hard to quantify and redress".
Numsa, which represents thousands of workers in the industry, fears the signing of the agreements would lead to Eskom needing less coal-powered electricity and ultimately result in the closure of power plants and job losses.
In terms of the interdict Radebe gave an undertaking that he would not sign the IPP agreements, including the power purchase agreements until the hearing on March 27.
The court found that our application meets the standard for urgency and therefore granted us the interdict.
Court action by a South African trade union has blocked the signing of 2.2GW of renewables contracts, dashing hopes that today would mark the end of a years-long saga that has battered confidence in the country's clean energy programme.
Radebe's comments follow a decision by the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) and non-governmental organisation Transform RSA's decision to approach the High Court in Pretoria.
"The IPP roll-out will raise the cost of electricity dramatically‚ because IPP's cost much more than coal-fired electricity". The combination of all these factors will have dire consequences for the working class and the poor. The more one does it, the more expensive it gets.
Coal ash disposals in South Africa.
"In the absence of an interdict, and with the court having expressly informed the parties in court that it would not grant such an order, nothing prevented Eskom and IPPs from signing the agreements, as scheduled by me for 13 March 2018".
"Let's be reminded that REIPPPP was born out of government's policy-embedded vision for an expansion of South Africa's energy mix to include independent power with an associated range of clear developmental imperatives".
Radebe said the signing of the 27 projects will enable ZAR56 billion of new investment in the economy over the next two to three years.
Eskom uses coal for about 90 percent of its generation. Moreover, the union says that renewable energy would boost electricity prices.