Big plans to move away from load shedding in the Western Cape

 ·4 Jan 2023

The Western Cape is taking ever-increasing steps to move away from relying solely on Eskom’s unreliable electricity supply in the province.

On Wednesday (4 January), the premier of the Western Cape provincial government, Alan Winde, visited a Macassar-based business, Taylor Technology, that is making moves to mitigate the impact of load shedding in South Africa.

The visit forms part of the province’s commitment to becoming more resilient to load shedding, Winde said, with the energy crisis remaining a top priority in 2023.

According to the Western Cape government, the premier is assessing ways in which private businesses can be assisted in dealing with energy shortages, calling for more investment into alternatives.

“We need to ensure there is more investment into and from the private sector to mitigate the devastating effects of load shedding. In 2022 we had 3,630 hours cumulative hours of load shedding in South Africa. Economic recovery and, more importantly, job creation cannot happen under these circumstances,” he said.

The premier said work is already underway in Saldanha Bay, Stellenbosch, George, and the City of Cape Town to bring more independent Power Producers (IPPs) on board.

In October of last year, Winde took a delegation to Europe to meet with key players in the region’s energy market. He said: “The damage rolling power cuts are doing to the provincial economy is considerable.”

“That is why we have to intensify and expand our green energy drive by boosting our relations with European partners and finding the right energy mix for our province.”

“What is at the forefront of my mind is how we as the provincial government enable an energy-resilient environment and what is the right energy mix for the province,” Winde said.

Other initiatives to mitigate load shedding in the area include, among others:

  • Opened up the possibility of 200MW of procured energy from Independent Power Producers (IPPs);
  • The City of Cape Town allocated R15 million in 2022 to pay for energy generated by small-scale embedded generators through the feed-in-tariff;
  • Exploring a ‘rewards scheme‘ for citizens and companies that voluntarily shut off their power to help alleviate pressure on the grid.

Controlled blackouts enforced by Eskom to avoid a country-wide shutdown have become commonplace for South Africans. The rolling blackouts threaten the country’s economic and social development – making day-to-day business harder across the board.

The national power utility has put in place stage 2 load shedding until further notice. Eskom said that over the coming year, it needs to keep breakdowns below 13,000MW to stave off dire levels of load shedding.

The company has, however, historically struggled to keep outages below 16,000MW – while 1,000MW from the reliable Koeberg Nuclear Power Station has been taken offline for maintenance work, and 2,000MW remains offline from critical failures at Medupi and Kusile.

All indications are that load shedding will remain a significant hurdle for businesses and households in South Africa in 2023, with Eskom itself warning citizens to prepare themselves for a rocky year ahead.

Read: Eskom’s big diesel problem – government has a suggestion

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