Cape Town begins plans to move off Eskom’s grid and away from load shedding

 ·2 Feb 2022

The City of Cape Town will publish documents detailing its upcoming procurement of power from independent power producers (IPPs) within the next two weeks, says mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis.

Commenting on the latest load shedding announcement by Eskom, Hill-Lewis said the documents will include the announcement of tenders for the purchase of electricity from IPPs and timelines for bringing IPP-generated electricity onto the city’s supply network.

“It has become clear to the City of Cape Town that if we wish to halt the damage caused by Eskom’s monopoly over electricity generation, we have to take matters into our own hands. The only way for us to provide reliable and affordable electricity to our residents is to source it from elsewhere,” he said.

“The urgency of the matter cannot be overstated in light of Eskom’s decision to implement stage-two load-shedding from 11h00 today until 05h00 next Monday morning.”

Hill-Lewis said the city is able to protect its electricity customers from one stage of load shedding, but the power outages still lead to businesses failing and jobs being lost. It also makes the possibility of meaningful economic recovery ever more remote, he said.

He warned that consumers will also bear the brunt of price hikes, with Eskom pressing ahead with an application to regulator Nersa to hike the price of electricity by 20.5% from 1 April 2022.

“Bringing IPPs onto the grid, through the tendering process, is a crucial step in ending load shedding over time. The economic effects of a reliable power supply in Cape Town will mean more profitable businesses and more job opportunities. Every Capetonian will benefit.

“We hope that other spheres of government will respect our constitutional mandate to deliver electricity to our residents, and not stand in our way of making Cape Town the first load-shedding free municipality in South Africa.”

While Cape Town is now progressing with its energy plans, other major metros in South Africa have also expressed intent or laid out strategies to do the same.

These plans were announced before the 2021 local elections before mayorships changed hands from the ANC to the DA. However, no counter-plans or intent to stop or change the strategies have been announced.


The City of Ekhuruleni in Gauteng has also announced plans to introduce IPPs to its grid to reduce dependence on Eskom.

According to the municipality’s annual report for 2020/21, it awarded 46 tenders to independent power producers (IPPs) to generate additional renewable energy for the city.

“The city is finalising the implementation of the City programme to purchase electricity from the appointed power producers,” it said.

Ekurhuleni released a statement in July 2020 explaining that renewable energy sources would be a cost-effective solution for the city, adding that solar power is the best-suited technology for its needs.

“Energy supply management is likely to be one of the most complex problems for the city for now and in the immediate future, particularly being the industrial hub of the country,” it said.

At the time, the department said it identified Solar PV as the best available technology to invest in, in terms of renewable energy to augment the current status of increasing energy demand.

The municipality said it had already installed solar panels on most city building rooftops, which had also been connected to the national grid to ease pressure on the existing energy supply.


In October 2021, the City of Johannesburg said it was moving ahead with plans to introduce its own energy mix, to cut its reliance on Eskom, and avoid daily load shedding.

The city said that the strategy would see the city sourcing 200MW of electricity supplies from Photovoltaics (PV) farms and rooftop suppliers. An additional 200MW would be introduced through electricity ‘wheeling and trading’, it said.

Wheeling is the act of transporting electricity (electrical energy) by a generator or energy trader to a consumer through a network not owned, controlled or leased by either party and deals with the financial flow of electrical energy.

The strategy also includes sourcing up to 50MW of gas-powered electricity generation and 25MW generated from waste-to-energy.

In total, the strategy is designed to secure almost 500MW of new generating capacity. This subsequently enables the city to effectively shift from the traditional supplier Eskom to alternative energy sources.

“It is work that has been done in the last year or so. It is not about electioneering or 1 November. We want to show the people of the city that we have a plan and that there is a sustainable power supply for our residents.”

The changes are expected take place within the next three years.


Ethekwini, the South African municipality that includes the port city of Durban, announced in July 2021 that it plans to introduce IPPs.

Ethekwini is seeking a “diverse mix of sustainable, dispatchable and reliable power generation technologies,” the municipality said on its website, indicating that while it isn’t stipulating which technology should be proposed it does want the power to be available on demand.

It subsequently published a request for information for the supply of 400 megawatts of power in a bid to ease reliance on national utility Eskom. It will also seek information for the installation of 100 megawatts of battery storage.

Read: Eskom CEO on the load shedding outlook for South Africa

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