This week Premier Alan Winde chaired a meeting of the Western Cape Energy Council which included mayors from several municipalities that the Western Cape Government (WCG) is working with to reduce the impact of loadshedding through the installation of containerized solar photovoltaic (PV) cells and battery storage.
“Our aim with this project is to pilot how we can speedily install containerized solar PV cells with battery storage in these municipalities which would stop loadshedding in these towns. We would like to see these projects launched as soon as possible. It is encouraging to see so many of our municipalities working with us as the Western Cape Government (WCG) and taking the initiative to address the impact of the worsening blackouts on our citizens and our economy,” said Premier Winde.
In order to be considered for this initiative, the municipalities needed to meet specific criteria. The mayors and their teams gave presentations to the Energy Council on their ability to meet these specifications. Further interrogation on municipalities’ technical capabilities will now be done before the final municipalities are publicly announced in June.
Over and above these municipalities, the WCG is also working with 5 other municipalities to help them to become loadshedding-free through its Municipal Energy Resilience (MER) programme. The MER programme assists municipalities with funding for foundational energy studies to enable private and public sector power projects.
The Western Cape Energy Resilience Programme is the overarching plan that is guiding the provincial government’s approach to end blackouts and – along with other initiatives – is positioning the province as the hub for energy resilience.
Provincial Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning Minister Anton Bredell thanked the candidate municipalities for their willingness to work hard in becoming less reliant on Eskom. He said, “Each town is unique in terms of electricity needs and system requirements, and we will be breaking new ground as electrical systems are designed and implemented”.
“As such, the department will provide technical and project management support to these municipalities. We believe that it is the responsibility of the WCG to invest in infrastructure and systems that will enable the private sector to flourish and at the same time support local governments with their mandate to provide basic and essential services to our residents.”
Western Cape Finance and Economic Opportunities Minister Mireille Wenger, noted, “We are working hard to ensure a coherent and predictable energy policy environment in the Western Cape. A critical part of this is the work we are doing through the MER initiative which is helping municipalities to do research to understand and quantify their electricity needs now and into the future”.
“We are doing our homework to be prepared and plan for new sources of energy in a responsible way. The fact is that we must get things like wheeling frameworks – how to move power from one part of the grid to another, and cost of supply studies as well as Electricity Master Plans in place as they form the very foundation upon which bringing more energy onto the grid, relies.”
“Rolling blackouts are unfortunately likely to worsen as we move into winter and our goal as the WCG is to protect as many residents and businesses as possible from the severity of these blackouts. We are looking forward to working with our first phase of local municipalities to make sure that they have electricity systems in place so that when loadshedding starts, municipalities can use a different source of power, like solar PV panels, batteries and more. We are working hard to become the first province to beat loadshedding,” concluded Premier Winde.