During the 2000s, the metropolitan municipality of Cape Town elaborated an ambitious energy transition strategy, backed up by the Energy and Climate Action Plan approved in 2010. One element of this plan is a mass solar water heater roll-out programme for households. Analysing the difficulties in the implementation of this programme, this article argues that the main limits to metropolitan action do not result primarily from local and/or multi-level governance issues but from national constraints and stakes which are deeply rooted in the political economy of South Africa. Any attempt to build an autonomous metropolitan energy policy is therefore today illusory in South Africa.
Special Report: Energy and Cities in Developing Countries: Transitions in QuestionBy Alain Dubresson