Another town in South Africa to break free from load shedding

 ·20 Feb 2024

The Western Cape Government and the Hessequa Municipality are working together to make the town of Riversdale load-shedding-free.

Speaking at the Western Cape State of the Province Address, Premier Alan Winde said that load shedding has severely hampered economic growth within the province, having lost between R49 billion and R61 billion in real GDP since load shedding started.

In 2022, the real GDP loss for the Western Cape was estimated at R8.2 billion, with the stage 4 load shedding costing R43 million per day.

However, Winde said that the province is on its way to becoming the first load-shedding-free province in the country, with just under R7 billion being spent over the next three years to make the province energy resilient.

This comprises over R1 billion from the province, R3.9 billion from the City of Cape Town and R1.9 billion being spent by other municipalities to help the private sector and households meet their energy needs.

In addition, Hessequa Municipality and the Western Cape Government are implementing a R210 million solar PV project over the next three years, which will make the town of Riversdale load-shedding-free.

The Democratic Alliance – which currently governs the province – previously said that the project would be able to generate 15 million kilowatt hours every year.

Winde said that Riversdale will then become the first load-shedding-free town in the province, improving the lives of its 22,000 residents.

He added that the twenty-five other municipalities have seen a remarkable rise in embedded generation installations.

Other wind and solar projects by private households and businesses that Winde alluded to in his address included:

  • Three 75MW solar farms will be based in the Touws River area;

  • Atlantis Foundries and Energy Partners are working together on an extensive embedded solar project, which includes 20,000 ground-mounted solar panels.

  • Prescient Investment Management and H1 Holdings are investing in a solar project that will go live next year and could power up to 100,000 homes.

As power utility Eskom continues to grapple with load shedding and poor performing generating units at its power stations, more towns, municipalities and cities are taking their power needs into their own hands.

On top of the billions of rands being invested in own-generation and alternative generation sources in places like Joburg, Cape Town and Tshwane, smaller towns are doing what they can to see to their own energy needs.

The small Free State town of Clarens recently became the country’s first “smart town” – using an app to manage its load and implement load curtailment on a group basis.

Other towns, like Frankfort, previously tried to get rid of load shedding entirely through solar, but ran into regulatory trouble around their methods.

Read: Climate Commission scolds energy ministry’s plan to tackle power supply in South Africa

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