Cape Town wants residents to ditch Eskom and go solar – here’s how it could work and who will pay for it

In an effort to meet its aggressive renewable energy targets, the City of Cape Town has announced that it is working to establish an appropriate business model to stimulate the uptake of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.

In a statement on Thursday (11 October), the city noted that while it has seen an increasing number of customers installing rooftop solar photovoltaic infrastructure, costs are perceived to be prohibitive by most residents.

“As such the city is happy to announce that a letter of collaboration has been signed with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Southern Africa Energy Program (SAEP) to investigate appropriate mechanisms to unlock access to the benefits of this technology for more of Cape Town’s residents,” it said.

“While investing in and rolling out renewables is the obvious way forward for a progressive city which is dedicated to growing its status as the green economy hub of Africa, the city is aware that certain barriers exist.

“The city’s efforts to facilitate a move to sustainable models are necessary for creating an environment that allows for the private sector to move safely and legally towards investment into and adoption of these options.

“Solar projects will become more economically viable only if adoption rates are scaled up, solid public-private partnerships are formed and clear regulatory frameworks are put in place,” it said.

The city noted that there are various models for how this can be done, including:

  • Nelson Mandela Bay municipality’s model prescribes that investors can pay for solar panels to be installed at private homes and then be reimbursed according to how much energy is transmitted back onto the network;
  • The city could invest in the capital cost of the infrastructure and then have residents pay this back either via their electricity invoice or property rates;
  • Through community or co-operative funding mechanisms

The city said that the study will identify the most appropriate mechanisms for Cape Town’s customers based on legal and technical factors and what is most attractive to residents.

“We have a number of initiatives underway to release Cape Town from its heavy reliance on Eskom. I am confident that the outcomes of this work will be hugely valuable in our committed drive to building a low carbon, resilient and resource-efficient city,” said the city’s Xanthea Limberg.

“This move also helps to position the Cape Town as a centre for green business and the growth of the renewable sector helps to preserve our environment.

“Apart from this though, research and development, design, manufacture and the installation and maintenance of small-scale embedded generation systems and services all provide economic opportunities,” said Limberg.


Read: Two-thirds of Eskom baseload stations facing supply problems

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