Western Cape adds 3 solar plants to its plans to quit Eskom

 ·9 Mar 2023

As the Gauteng provincial government tabled its budget for the year, including its plans to mitigate the load shedding crisis, the Western Cape is moving forward with its own plans to do the same.

Western Cape premier Alan Winde hosted the province’s second “Energy Digicon” on Thursday, laying out broad plans for the region to reduce the impact of rolling blackouts on businesses and citizens.

The conference also touched on what is being done to reduce the province’s reliance on power utility Eskom in the future.

The provincial government laid out short-, medium- and long-term projects that are currently underway. These include:

  • Load shedding Relief Programme – this will, amongst others, see emergency packs consisting of power packs distributed to indigent households;
  • Provincial Integrated Resource Plan – this includes a basket of options, including green and alternative energy sources;
  • Demand Side Management Programme – incentivising and rewarding the public to play its part in taking the strain off of the power grid by reducing power usage wherever they can;
  • New Emergency Generation Programme;
  • Network Development Programme

One of the key plans in the province is the George Municipality’s Energy Resilience Plan, which will see three solar plants being commissioned in the region between 2023 and 2025, as well as building a battery storage facility.

By turning to self-generation – as well as reducing consumption – the municipality aims to cushion residents from “several stages of power cuts”.

“Our municipalities have been hard at work drawing up their own energy plans. We must confront this disaster both at the provincial government and local government levels. It is only by working together through partnerships that we will be able to end the blackouts,” Winde said.

Winde revealed last week that the Western Cape as a whole plans to facilitate the construction of almost 6,000MW of power generation capacity to counter nationwide electricity shortages and bolster the regional economy.

The province aims to add as much as 750 megawatts of supply by 2025 and to reach 5,700 megawatts by 2035. That should be sufficient to meet demand as the provincial economy expands, Winde said.

The Western Cape government has yet to determine which transmission options — Eskom infrastructure, municipal grids and microgrids — will work best and in what combination, according to Winde.

The province plans will have to take into account its growing population, which is projected to hit 8 million in the next six years, up from 7.2 million currently.

Broadly, the city’s plans include:

  • Buying power on the open market, with the second phase of its major IPP procurement due to be announced soon;
  • Paying businesses and residents to sell power back to the city;
  • Incentives for voluntary energy savings under a new Power Heroes programme;
  • Municipal generation projects such as Steenbras Hydro power, solar PV, and gas turbines.

Read: Gauteng plots R1.2 billion move away from load shedding

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