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Cape Town to build solar plant capable of protecting against a full stage of rolling blackouts

Cape Town to build solar plant capable of protecting against a full stage of rolling blackouts
Cape Town has comissioned Paardevlei solar photovoltaic plant as part of plans to end rolling blackouts in the city over the next three years. (Photo: Leila Dougan | Unsplash)

The City has announced the commissioning of a photovoltaic power station, part of its plans to be the ‘first metro to free our economy from power disruptions’. 

The City of Cape Town on Monday announced that it will design, build and operate a R1.2-billion solar photovoltaic plant with battery storage capacity capable of providing a full stage of rolling blackout protection.  

The Paardevlei plant, which will provide up to 60MW of renewable energy, will be built on the outskirts of Somerset West, on land that is not suitable for human settlements. 

The project is one of two that were awarded support by the C40 Cities Finance Facility (CFF) — an organisation that offers cities technical and financial assistance for a green and just transition. 

“The C40 CFF will support the project team in their efforts to undertake a technical feasibility study,” said Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis. The feasibility study for the plant will be completed at the end of 2023, and the plant should be fully commissioned by August 2026. 

“This project is another critical step in our journey away from Eskom reliance and towards a load shedding-free Cape Town,” said Hill-Lewis. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: How to beat load shedding at home… and other ideas

The CFF initiative is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the government of the United Kingdom and the Agence Française de Development.

City’s plans to become first metro with no power disruptions

“We are confident that Cape Town will be the first metro to free our economy from power disruptions, and ensure a green and just energy transition,” said Hill-Lewis. 

In the city’s 2023/2024 budget plans, R2.3-billion was allocated to plans designed to end rolling blackouts over the next three years. The Paardevlei solar plant is part of this plan. 

In April, the city issued a power tender which would allow the city to buy 500MW of dispatchable energy from the open market. In January, it announced it would pay cash to commercial customers with their own embedded generation facilities who were able to sell excess power to the energy grid. DM

Read more in Daily Maverick: Eskom Intelligence Files


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Daniel Cohen says:

    If the land is suitable for agriculture I hope that part of the project is to raise the panels on stilts (if possible) to allow for suitable farming, eg grazing, to take place.

  • Agf Agf says:

    Thank God for the DA. Only they could make a project like this work.

  • José Lueje says:

    Fantastic !. Go for it !.

  • Robert Morgan says:

    Expect the petulant ANC to try to put the kibosh on any social advancement. It’s about time the goalpost movers got a taste of their own medicine. Vote the miserable sods out next year as they have finally proven beyond all doubt that they are not fit for purpose.

  • Steve Spottiswoode says:

    Will the Steenbras pump storage scheme be involved with this as it is a cheaper energy storage system than batteries?

  • Alan Watkins says:

    Wonderful. But how is this any different to what Frankfort is doing in the Free State. There, as I understand it, Eskom is taking the municipality to court to block a similar move. Wont Eskom also block such a move by Cape Town?

  • Hari Seldon says:

    City’s SSEG feed in tariff for private customers to feed into the grid and be paid is around 74c per kWh with a limited period 25ckWh sweetener. Yet the import tariff (what most of you pay the city for power) is over 300% more than this. Achieve parity and the pay back cost of installing solar makes it a viable business. Even low cost houses in townships could potentially get debt finance to put up solar on the roof as they will make profit over time. At the current tariff pay-back takes too long. This will do far more to make the WC independent of Eskom than a 1.2 billion scheme outlined above. And then watch the foreign investment flow in.

  • Gordon Bentley says:

    The scheme sounds wonderful. What a difference, when the ANC and it’s Cadre deployment is not involved. Also when the the Minister of Electricity and Gwede are not involved.

    It’s not too soon to get rid of ALL of them – the whole bloody lot of them!
    VIVA the people of South Africa VIVA. PANSI ANC PANSI


    Very good and ambitious.
    Could the CoC also allow the small users with excess solar a better access to exporting power. After numerous pleading the CoC still charging an outrageous amount for a special compulsory meter (4 quadrant ) to be installed before allowing export to the grid. This render it uneconomical for homes and businesses. Please ..

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