Cape Town expects a population boom over the next five years – with changes planned for electricity supply

The City of Cape Town expects its population to expand rapidly by approximately 400,000 people between 2020 and 2025, with the influx expected to have implications for service delivery in the area.

This is according to the city’s latest energy report which focuses on the electricity supply and Cape Town’s plans to move away from Eskom’s grid and load shedding.

“Based on the population growth trends, a shift in income distribution over time is unlikely, which means that approximately 76% of all new households will be low-income –  earning less than R13,000 per month,” the city said.  “These urbanisation trends will continue to have a significant impact on the city’s expenditure in providing access to sustainable energy and other basic services.”

Cape Town currently provides an electricity social package to qualifying low-income households. The package consists of subsidised grid connections and a subsidised tariff, which is combined with one of two free basic electricity (FBE) allocations.

“Although Cape Town is 98% electrified, an estimated 10,000 households in informal dwellings cannot be provided with electricity from the grid, have no access to any energy subsidy, and are the most vulnerable to energy poverty and its effects,” it said.

“These informal dwellings cannot be electrified because they are typically located on land that is reserved for infrastructure expansion, unsuitable or unsafe for development, or legally disputed.”

Despite the provision of subsidised grid connections and monthly allocations, the basic energy needs of the poor in Cape Town are still not being met adequately, the city said.

Some of the proposals to address this issue that are being considered by the city include:

  • The provision of liquefied petroleum gas as a cleaner and more sustainable energy source;
  • The deployment of solar water heaters to formal households;
  • Promoting and facilitating the thermal efficiency of homes, including installing ceilings where houses do not have any;
  • The shifting of electricity consumption to outside peak periods (it is recognised that this is not readily achievable in low-income households, however, so innovative solutions such as cost-effective energy storage will be required);
  • The provision of small (50–75 Wp) off-grid solar home systems, either individually or through ‘mini-grids’, to households not connected to the grid;
  • Electricity Lifeline tariff optimisation to circumvent disincentives for increased consumption;
  • Education and awareness that empowers residents to make good choices, covering topics such as safety, subsidies, energy efficiency, fuel choices, and the longevity and running costs of energy devices;
  • Further studies to understand current energy stacking practices, including the drivers of residents’ choices, purchase patterns, usage patterns and, importantly, cultural and social perceptions of various energy options. Another area of interest is the effect of the introduction of liquefied petroleum gas into the household energy mix on electricity purchases and time-of-use patterns.

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Cape Town expects a population boom over the next five years – with changes planned for electricity supply