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South Africa’s cities to switch to solar as Eskom monopoly ends

Initiative driven mainly by utility’s unreliability.
Image: Bloomberg

South Africa’s biggest cities are preparing to source their own power after the energy ministry this month approved letting them wean themselves off the state utility that’s subjected cities to outages for the past 13 years.

Johannesburg and Cape Town, which have a combined population of about 10 million people, plan to diversify away from the electricity produced mainly from coal by Eskom Holdings to more sustainable sources such as solar and power generated from landfill gas.

Read: SA to purchase 6 800 MW of solar, wind power, says energy minister

“The City is looking at 300 megawatts of renewable” energy, Kadri Nassiep, Cape Town’s executive director for energy and climate change, said by email. “If all clarity is obtained and plans forge ahead, we could start seeing greater diversification of our energy resources as a city in about three to five years time.”

In addition to improving security of supply, the move will allow the cities to boost their fight against climate change by using power that doesn’t result in the emission of greenhouse gases. Still, it will slash revenue for Eskom, which is struggling to service a $30 billion debt bill.

“Internationally many cities are at the forefront of dealing with climate-change disasters and so have adopted proactive climate-change responses,” Lauren Hermanus, director of Adapt, a South African company that provides consultancy services on sustainable energy, said in an interview. “We are also all aware of Eskom’s related operational, governance and fiscal challenges, most clear in our bouts of load shedding,” she said, using a local term for power outages.

Landfill gas

South Africa produces the same quantity of greenhouse gases as the UK, which has an economy eight times larger. Eskom, which runs a fleet of coal-fired power plants, is the country’s worst polluter, accounting for about 40% of the greenhouse-gas emissions.

Cape Town plans to build a photovoltaic solar power plant by the end of the 2023 financial year, as well as sourcing additional sustainable energy, Nassiep said. The city took the energy ministry to court this year to win the right to source its own power. The judge ruled that further negotiations with the government should take place.

“We intend putting out a tender for renewable-energy plants embedded in our grid in the next year and we would like to source renewable energy from large independent power producers as soon as is feasible,” he said.

Johannesburg, South Africa’s biggest city and financial hub, is considering sourcing power from solar plants and landfills, where gas from rotting garbage can be used to produce electricity.

The initiative is driven mainly by Eskom’s unreliability, the city’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions and the need to protect customers from rising power prices, said Isaac Mangena, a spokesman for Johannesburg’s City Power utility.

“City Power is still at early stages of the initiative and we expect the process to take at least 2 years,” he said.

© 2020 Bloomberg


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Off topic, but interesting image: reminds me of Alexandra driving past on the N1(east).

Hove anyone counted the “white dots” on the roofs of these ‘middle class’ citizens’ homes? DSTV dishes. Paid for…otherwise they’d be cut off.

Wonder how these citizens going to react when their future DSTV premium includes a pro-rata monthly SABC license fee…

..I would think one subscription is wired to 4 or 5 houses and who can blame them

You would think wrong as almost every shack/house has a dish

N1 or N3?
Sorry for being pedantic.

…sorry my bad. There’s no such a thing as N1 (east) ringroad. My error 😉 It’s the N3 indeed (starts at Buccleuch and ends somewhere in Ethekwini, KZN)

To be precise, this N3 location is likely (i say likely) between the Marlboro & London Road off-ramps (I can even try obtain the Off-ramp Exit numbers for you, if you’re interested 🙂

On the SANRAL Richter scale, this stretch of road is between their “Ibis” and “Kiewiet” gantries.

If you want Artillery targeting information, like a 32-grid-number-reference for this area, it depends if you want to use a G-5 for pinpoint targeting, or a Batteleur MRL to…remove the “whole grid section” off the face of the earth. You’ll have to wait, as I try to use my old contacts.

The municipalities may discover that the cost to produce electricity on a scale smaller than Eskom is high. Eskom can produce the cheapest electricity in SA. This will impact non paying pirate customers.

An energy market will be required if self generation is going to work and be reliable and also be affordable. Eskom can participate as a buyer or a seller.

A large investment will be required anyway, but if it is safe from corrupt and wasteful interference then it could the thing that restarts our economy. It will take a long time to build. Unfortunately one cannot make up for time lost due to governmental procrastination, politics, theft and outdated ideologies. But yes it’s a start down the right path at last.

Not true, Eskom is expensive.
Metro is not servicing R450b of corruption and poor management debt.

I’ve just gone off grid, Solar + Inverter + Lithium and expect to see a payback in about 8 years – faster if Eskom implements their 15% increase next year.
This is home scale, at utility/Metro scale, the business case is even better.

Beginning of death spiral for Eskom as those that have the means will go off grid, leaving Eskom with the non-payers.

Find out if your municipality charges a rate for providing you the opportunity to be connected, although you’re not, like Mogale City.

This is all a bit idealistic. Look at the carbon footprint in the manufacturing process of solar panels versus efficiency and lifespan. The higher the efficiency the bigger the carbon footprint and cost resulting in a longer timespan to reach the carbon and financial breakeven point. Technology may hopefully reach a point where this becomes viable one day but it just isn’t there yet.
It would be interesting to know if methane gas emanating from our municipal dumps could supply enough power to meet current and future demand to replace coal-fired plants. I have not yet seen any studies to confirm this.
The reality is that the greenies are blinded by their idealism and have not taken the feasibility of their plans based on current technology into account.

A bit pedantic. Solar panels and wind turbines are going ahead because they produce cheaper electricity than Eskom. PV panels last 25 years at least and then they still produce 80% of their initial power. By which stage all concerns about carbon efficiency fall away. Obviously by using the ‘greenies’ term, this post clearly shows its bias.

If I read this correctly most municipalities want to use solar power. What do they intend to do at night because it is a fact that the sun does not shine at night.

The energy is stored in batteries


Have a look at the country load profile (how much kWh per hour by hour of day.

Then look at a solar irradiance chart

Solar can take a big slice out of that bell curve.

Also, storage is now running at less than R2/kWh. That means that solar you stored at noon is cheaper than the peak rate energy your council sells at 7pm. Under 200c battery in/out plus about 70c per kWh.

That is now, the battery element will be 120c soon

Eish, gonna cost alot of money to implement, cant we just rather ‘fix’ Eskom?

Privatise and get rid of all the bloat and incompetence-this is how Companies survive and grow in a competitive world. EishKom is past repairing – it needs to be cut up into the 3 entities as planned and let competition prevail, then all and sundry will begin to ‘make things happen’.

‘Michaelfromklerksdorp’ – ek soek di Koordinate nou asb.

You have a great sense of humour – thank you.

End of comments.





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