Our Burning Planet

POWER CRISIS

City of Joburg expects ‘groundbreaking’ IPP plan to reduce load shedding, but remains mum on costs

City of Joburg expects ‘groundbreaking’ IPP plan to reduce load shedding, but remains mum on costs
(Photos: Bloomberg / Getty Images / Nicholas Axelrod | Factory emitting smoke / Unsplash | Wind turbines in Liverpool, England / Getty Images / Christopher Furlong) / Juniperphoton)

A major development in the 10-point plan aimed at addressing the crippling energy crisis was announced by the City of Johannesburg on Thursday.

Joburg residents can look forward to being spared at least one stage of loading shedding in the near future, and potentially six in the mid to long term if the city’s plans to address the energy crisis are successful.

The city’s MMC for environment and infrastructure services, Jack Sekwaila, said the procurement of energy through a “groundbreaking” Short-Term Power Purchase Programme (STPPP) agreement from four independent power producers (IPPs) would add 92MW to the city’s grid.

City officials said the monetary value of the programme would not be disclosed ahead of the IPPs being informed that they have been selected. Additionally, they said the value of the project was yet to be calculated.

The yet-to-be-named IPPs are a waste-to-energy facility that will generate 20MW; a gas-to-power facility that will add 31MW and two solar photovoltaic systems that will generate a combined capacity of 40.8MW.

The four IPPs were selected from 16 bids that were received. 

The gas-to-power facility has the potential to generate baseload power for the city. Johannesburg gets 90% of its electricity from Eskom and 10% from the privately owned Kelvin Power Station, which provides 150MW-200MW. 

City Power’s CEO, Tshifularo Mashava, said the power procured from the IPPs would be cheaper than what the entity is paying Eskom. However, the IPP’s unit price is yet to be determined as the agreements are still being finalised. 

Mashava added that two of the bidders were ready to be connected to the grid immediately. It is unclear when the other two projects will be onboarded.

“One stage of load shedding is 100MW (for the city), so 90MW is a step towards [reducing a stage of load shedding]. If you look at our other programmes, we will definitely be pulling in our own generators, with the option of diesel and gas, and we are looking for an additional 70MW. If you take the 90 and 70MW, we are exceeding a stage of load shedding,” said Mashava.

Read more in Daily Maverick: City of Johannesburg puts out begging bowl to kick-start rolling blackouts prevention plan up to stage 3 

The CEO added that the other initiatives by City Power, such as the Smart Meters Programme which allows the city to effectively monitor load distribution in the face of blackouts, could eliminate up to three stages of load shedding. 

Once all programmes are in full swing, and with the current energy demand, the City expects to shield its residents from up to six stages of load shedding.

The agreement with the four IPPs is part of the city’s 10-point plan to eliminate rolling blackouts. Other aspects of the plan, announced at the China-South Africa Energy Summit earlier this year, include: 

  • Engagement with IPPs and STPPPs;
  • Installation of rooftop photovoltaic systems;
  • Installation of ripple relay systems;
  • Investment in energy efficiency and the energy management system;
  • Initiation of smart meters’ load-limiting;
  • Improvements in demand side management customer communication;
  • Recommissioning of open-cycle gas turbines;
  • Deployment of solar masts and additional streetlights;
  • Development of microgrid systems; and
  • The establishment of vehicle charging stations.

“The entity [City Power] has been deliberate in ensuring that it moves from being an electricity company to an energy company,” Sekwaila said. 

“We gather here today to announce one of the 10-point plans of City Power to lessen the impact of load shedding by generating 500MW of electricity.”

The 500MW is expected to be in generation by 2030 and will include not only the STPPPs but long-term energy producers that will be onboarded over 20 years, as opposed to the three years offered by STPPPs. 

The long-term sustainable energy strategy is being finalised before being submitted for approval to National Treasury, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa and the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, Sekwaila said.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Dumped — metros start the move away from Eskom and towards independent power producers

Part of the current plan being rolled out is the Small-Scale Embedded Generation (SSEG) programme, which Sekwaila said the city was working on implementing. 

The SSEG programme — wheeling — will enable customers who are generating their power through solar to feed excess electricity into the city’s grid.  

Sekwaila said the city would roll out 20,000 solar geysers, particularly in low-income areas. The programme was launched in June in Finetown, which will have 500 solar geysers installed in Phase 1 of the project. DM

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