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Cape Town aims to protect residents from up to six stages of rolling blackouts by 2026

Cape Town aims to protect residents from up to six stages of rolling blackouts by 2026
Illustrative image | Executive director of energy for the City of Cape Town Kadri Nassiep (Image: Smart Energy)

The City of Cape Town is also investigating alternative energy solutions for informal settlements where grid-connected electrification is not possible.

Cape Town is making strides in its mission to mitigate up to four stages of load shedding by 2026, launching its ambitious energy strategy this week.  This means that with extra capacity from the Steenbras pumped storage power station, residents will be protected from up to six stages of load shedding.

Kadri Nassiep, executive director of energy for the City of Cape Town, told delegates at a recent solar power conference that one of the first steps in the strategy is the need to stabilise the grid.

Nassiep says the city currently has three tenders out in the marketplace.

“The first tender is designed to put non-synchronised generation or non-dispatchable technologies like solar and wind on to the grid. We are looking at awarding 20-year contracts up to 200MW in the next few months.

“It’s been a protracted process, but we are almost at the point where we can finalise the evaluations and then move to award,” he says.

The second tender is the dispatchable round.

Nassiep says this phase will bring on 500MW in total capacity from anywhere in the country, as opposed to the non-dispatchables, which must be connected directly to the Cape Town grid.

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

The third tender is a smaller one of about 150MW, and will look at existing generation projects where, for example, developers have oversized their plants and they now have excess capacity – which the city wants to tap into.

The Smart Energy programme goals are:

  • Short-term (by 2026): Increase capabilities to mitigate up to four stages of load shedding.
  • Medium-term (by 2031): Reforms implemented to maintain a financially sustainable electricity utility with enhanced operations and asset management practices.
  • Long-term (by 2050): Transforming the energy system to be carbon-neutral.

Getting energy solutions to informal settlements

At the same time, the City of Cape Town is investigating alternative energy solutions for informal settlements where grid-connected electrification is not possible.

In city-supplied areas, where feasible, almost 100% of the older existing informal settlements have been electrified. But many newer settlements exist or have formed on land where it is not possible to electrify, such as on wetlands or nature reserves.

City mayoral committee member Beverley van Reenen says the focus is on indoor solar lights, renewable energy public lighting, alternative energy for cellphone charging as well as wonderbags and cooking insulators for affordability and safety.

Alleviating energy poverty and enhancing safety are also key focus areas of the city’s energy strategy that is being launched this week.

As part of the investigation into alternative renewable energy solutions in informal settlements, the city has also conducted community surveys to gain first-hand knowledge of community perceptions of alternative energy and what the hurdles and opportunities are.

The research will inform the nuts and bolts of the Urban Energy Poverty Programme over the next few years.

Damian Conway, executive director of the Sustainability Innovation Lab, iShack, says South Africa is missing a huge opportunity for enterprise development and job creation in alternative energy services within the so-called informal economy.

iShack provides basic solar electricity using small off-grid solar units and is already active in nine informal settlements in Cape Town.

“We’re really pleased that the city is actively engaging with a range of alternatives. We hope that Cape Town will trailblaze a truly market-making policy that enables the poorest households to access the admittedly limited funds for free basic energy so that they can finally have a choice of affordable alternative energy services,” he says.

A partnership between the University of Exeter and the University of Cape Town has led to funding from the UK’s Newton Fund for an alternative approach to public lighting for un-electrifiable informal settlements, a component of service delivery that’s often neglected when considering service provision for informal settlements.

“The absence of appropriate public lighting after dark has profound impacts on the wellbeing of residents,” says Federico Caprotti, associate professor in human geography at the University of Exeter.

“By co-developing the project with the users, and acknowledging them as central to its implementation, the project has shown meaningful improvements to life after dark and contributed to a sense of custodianship.

“The project is one of three similar projects in Khayelitsha implemented by collaborators in the ‘LightUp’ community of practice,” he says. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    This is what is important for us all. Yes CoCT. Yes DA.

  • Marc de Jager says:

    The City of Cape Town is doing a great job trying to protect residents from higher load shedding and load shedding in general, but there is a significant band of Eskom direct customers who are not included in these plans. There needs to be a plan to integrate these rate paying customers into the City of Cape Town grid as well, which does not seem to be a priority for CoCT.

    • Geoff Coles says:

      Good points, but the problem is Eskom and Government

    • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

      Ideally the whole country – use your vote wisely people.

    • Greeff Kotzé says:

      Indeed. If these Capetonians had to suffer stage 6 loadshedding while those around them have none, it would be a travesty of inequality in a city that already has vast spatial inequality challenges.

      Ruyterwacht, Elsies River, Bishop Lavis, Belhar, Crossroads, Ikwezi Park, Bongani, Eyethu, Ilitha Park, Mandela Park, Harare, Monwabisi, the rest of Khayelitsha, Macassar, Faure, Eersterivier, Kleinvlei, Blue Downs, Blackheath, Scottsdene, Wallacedene, Bloekombos, Kraaifontein East, Joostenbergvlakte, Fisantekraal, Klipheuwel, Philadelphia, Parklands, Sunningdale, Blouberg, Table View, Killarney Gardens, Dunoon, Richwood, Burgundy Estate, Bothasig.

      I know the city government is in “salvage what you can” mode in light of the national situation, but can we really afford to leave half of our city out in the (literal) cold? I also know that supply areas are determined at NERSA’s discretion, but can the city and province claim to have pursued becoming the regional distributor for all of Cape Town with the same vigour as they have been devoting to devolution of commuter rail and policing — or even at all?

      Mr Mayor, if you are drawing up long-term plans to 2050 and beyond, the time to include these currently-excluded residents in your planning is now, not later.

    • Bob Dubery says:

      We have the same in Johannesburg, where many suburbs (especially in the North) are supplied directly by Eskom. In either City there are technical challenges to integrating Eskom supplied aread into the municipal grid. The two grids are electrically and physically separate.

      So I agree that it would be nice if something were done, but it’s not just a question of the City’s priorities, there’s also the matter of what is technically feasible and in installing the necessary infrastructure. Plus all the accounting issues with moving a large number of customers off of one grid, to another that has different tariff structures. All doable, but not easy.

  • Denise Smit says:

    This is what the DA does. Amidst all the turmoil and the state of the world it is looking forward to the future and is innovative and bold in its actions. Congratulations Cape Town and Gordon Hill Lewis. Keep on showing the rest of SA how to do it

  • Alpha Sithole says:

    Good things happening in the W. Cape. Keep it up!

  • Paddy Ross says:

    Cape Town is rapidly becoming the capital of South Africa for those that have eyes that can see.

  • L Dennis says:

    DA servant leadership. Well done

  • Rob Alexander says:

    After reading this article I must now have a Wednesday morning rant….
    Whilst encouraging to read about specifics talked by CT officials when it comes to addressing the load shedding, we must contrast this with what the ANC says. To date the ANC has only wishful thinking-WT and hot air-HT vented as solutions going forward e.g. The latest Integrated Resource Plan (WT) for the coordinated generation of energy has been widely criticised by experts and the latest SONA speech about the end of loading shedding was just a load of HA.
    Also contrast the specifics mentioned with the HA vented by our esteemed Ju-Ju in his recent EFF manisfesto in KZN i.e. “………….end load shedding within six months should it [EFF] be elected …………. they have already assembled a team of engineers who will be integrated into Eskom and if they become government, the rolling blackouts will be a thing of the past……”.
    Really? 6 months? The EFF?
    The problem is this political HA and blatant lying appeals to EFF constituents who trust Ju-Ju. Same as the majority of “our people” who swallow the WT and HA spewed forth by our venerable ANC leadership. Zero scruples and no moral compass.
    Disgusting!

  • Bryan Arundel says:

    This is what happens when you have a responsible local government like the DA running the show. Sadly whilst the ANC are running the country there is no hope of this happening elsewhere.

  • Alan Watkins says:

    As usual, Cape Town is light years ahead of the rest of the country

  • Andrew Newman says:

    Why does it take 4 years to build a solar plant on land the city already owns connecting to the city grid and where there is already a brand new sub station?
    # Paardevlei Solar

    • Graeme J says:

      # because it is still faster than any equivalent solar plant built in any other part of the country. Do your homework before bashing the WC.

    • Andrew Newman says:

      The city also turned down solar power from the solar farm built at the factory next door.
      Eskom also turned down solar power so the solar farm was not extended.

  • Eddie B says:

    Well, like all good politicians, this is quite late. Don’t you think?

  • Shirley Gobey says:

    Wonderful Cape Town , but wait, doesn’t the DA run city only serve the posh suburbs according to Cameron Dugmore?

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