Schools and other government buildings in South Africa to be solar powered: minister

Mineral Resources and Energy minister Gwede Mantashe says that his department is working with the Department of Public Works to integrate renewable energy sources into government buildings.

Responding in a written parliamentary Q&A, Mantashe said the plan aims to mainly use solar photovoltaic systems and energy efficiency technologies.

“Already, funding has been secured and (a) programme business plan developed with energy audits of more than 20 government buildings audited in the current financial year.

“The programme is envisaged to achieve 4,200 GWh savings through the installation of solar PV systems and integration with energy-efficient technologies in public schools, military facilities, and office government buildings.”

Mantsahe said that the programme is aligned with the recently promulgated regulations on mandatory display and submission of energy performance certificates for buildings.

Some of the projects which have already completed solar energy generation include:

  • Makhado Air Force Base in Limpopo (195 kWp);
  • Alfred Nzo District in the Eastern Cape, (85 kWp);
  • Harry Gwala District in KwaZulu Natal, (96 kWp);
  • ILembe District in KwaZulu Natal (103 kWp);
  • Blouberg Local  Municipality in Limpopo; (65 kWp);
  • Kheis Local Municipality in Northern Cape (45kWp).

New regulations

This week, Mantashe published new embedded generation regulations for public comment, in a move that is expected to help limit the impact of load shedding.

The gazette effectively raises the threshold for embedded generation from 1MW to 10MW, providing businesses and private individuals more room to build their own electricity supply away from Eskom’s grid.

However, the gazette includes the proviso that private groups who plan to use this embedded generation will have to register with National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA).

President Cyril Ramaphosa previously announced that government would look at increasing the embedded generation limit in his February 2021 state of the nation address.

“Recent analysis suggests that easing the licensing requirements for new embedded generation projects could unlock up to 5,000 MW of additional capacity and help to ease the impact of load shedding,” he said.

“We will therefore amend Schedule 2 of the Electricity Regulation Act, 2006 (Act 4 of 2006) within the next three months to increase the licensing threshold for embedded generation.

“This will include consultation among key stakeholders on the level at which the new threshold should be set and the finalisation of the necessary enabling frameworks.”

Read: Climate change is hurting South Africa’s economy: Ramaphosa

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Schools and other government buildings in South Africa to be solar powered: minister