Western Cape Government on making steady progress in beating load shedding

Western Cape Government on making steady progress in beating load shedding

Western Cape Government on making steady progress in beating load shedding

Western Cape Government on making steady progress in beating load shedding

Premier Alan Winde hosted a digicon today where he and the Western Cape Government’s Special Advisor on Energy, Alwie Lester, gave an update on numerous energy initiatives the provincial government, along with other stakeholders, is implementing to make the Western Cape the first province to beat load shedding.

“We are making steady progress. This is thanks to the hard work and expertise of our Energy Council, which brings together all of our departments and municipalities as well as our universities and other stakeholders to find lasting solutions to the energy crisis,” said Premier Winde.

The provincial government’s drive towards making the Western Cape energy secure is informed by the Western Cape Energy Resilience Programme (WCERP). Among the programme’s objectives is to understand the current and future energy needs of the province and its residents, with particular emphasis on alternative energy sources and forging partnerships and enabling the environment to reduce the region’s reliance on Eskom power.

The Premier said, “Our province is well on its way to meeting its target of generating 5 700 MW of energy by 2035. With the resilience plan as our blueprint, we are mapping out and implementing measures, both short and long-term, to beat mass power cuts. While we seek out and implement short-term measures, we must always keep one eye on the future and what our future energy needs will be, so that we don’t face this crisis again.”

The WCERP consists of the:

  • Load Shedding Relief Programme (LSRP)
  • Provincial Integrated Resource Plan (PIRP)
  • Demand Side Management Programme (DSMP)
  • New Energy Generation Programme (NEGP)
  • Network Development Programme (NDP)

Mr Lester stated that there has been good progress in all of these focus areas.

Load Shedding Relief Packs

A key objective of the resilience plan is offering support to vulnerable communities and citizens. Load shedding has a disproportionately higher impact on the poor. Since late 2023, the WCG has been distributing load shedding relief packs to vulnerable residents across the province. “Over and above the more high-level interventions we are leading, we have also been handing out load shedding relief kits (emergency lighting and solar charging systems) to Western Cape Department of Social development-funded facilities, like gender-based violence shelters and school learners. In any way possible, we want to help our residents, in this case, by offering them these packs in the hopes of making them feel less vulnerable during power cuts,” explained Premier Winde.

To date:

  • 4 000 packs have been distributed to social development facilities
  • This week the next phase was rolled out, focusing on the education sector. More than 16 000 packs have been distributed to quintile 1-3 schools. 
  • In total, 96 000 packs are to be distributed to vulnerable grade 1 and 12 learners across the province.

Helping SMMEs: Alternative Energy Support Programme

Small, medium and micro enterprises (SMME)s – the engines of the Western Cape economy – have borne the brunt of the energy crisis. Since load shedding commenced in 2007, the Western Cape has lost between R48.6 billion and R61.2 billion in real GDP. In the 2023/24 financial year, the provincial government allocated R12 billion to its Alternative Energy Support Programme which is rolling out solar photovoltaic (PV) and battery storage systems to 12 trading hubs in 7 municipalities where SMMEs operate. This is helping about 50 businesses to stay open, sustaining more than 100 jobs. 135 businesses are also benefitting from mobile power solutions procured by the provincial government to keep them trading despite power cuts.

Enabling and empowering municipalities
With financial and capacity support from the WCG, the Hessequa Municipality is implementing a renewable energy project to make the town of Riversdale load shedding free. Mr Lester explained that the municipality has gone to market with its bid. He added “That bid closed at the end of April. The WCG and municipality are currently evaluating the bid and within the next few weeks we should be able to announce a successful bidder for that project.”

The initiative is made up of 3 phases:

  • Phase 1 is a 4 MW solar plant with 2 MWh battery storage
  • Phase 2 is an additional 6 MW solar plant with 2MWh battery storage and 
  • Phase 3 is 6 MWh battery storage to provide a complete solution delivering a 10MW solar plant with 10 MWh battery storage after 3 years. 

The Saldanha Bay Municipality is also in the process of rolling out a renewable energy project. A 50-hectare site has been earmarked for the development of a 1.5 GW gas-to-power project, in partnership with ArcelorMittal. A service provider has been appointed to initiate the next steps in this process.

The WCG’s Municipal Energy Resilience (MER) Initiative develops and capacitates municipalities to implement renewable energy solutions. This initiative has so far seen the successful request for information from more than 100 potential energy generation projects. Around 2 000 MWs are already in the market.

Small-Scale Embedded Generation (SSEG)
The uptake of small-scale embedded generation (SSEG) has been significant. 220 MW of small-scale embedded generation (SSEG) has been registered by municipalities across the province so far. New GIS data shows that an estimated 835 MW of solar PV has been installed to date across the Western Cape. 

24 municipalities are being supported with SSEG interventions, with 21 providing compensation for feedback of electricity. Mr Lester pointed out, “Between last year October and January 2024 nationally there was close to 4 500 MW of SSEG that came into the system. Roughly 35% of that is sitting in the Western Cape.” The Premier added that the WCG will keep providing support to municipalities to in turn make it easier for private households to explore and implement alternative energy solutions.

Protecting critical services
To protect as far as possible essential municipal services, early in 2023 the WCG allocated R89 million to local governments to ensure services such as water treatment and sewage infrastructure are still operational during power cuts:

  • 195 health facilities have generator capacity to continue essential services during load shedding.
  • 47 clinics have completed inverter installations and 
  • 10 hospitals have been exempted up to Stage 6 load shedding. 

The Premier stated, “we are also taking steps to save power and manage demand for energy in facilities we manage.” Energy-saving LED interventions were undertaken at 52 schools with 23 schools fitted with this type of lighting, and work under way at a further 29 schools. The total estimated annual energy savings of the 23 schools is 536 MWh per year.

At 18 schools 418 kWp solar PV and 653 kWh of battery storage have been installed thus far. This means when the power goes out up 17 000 learners can still be taught. A further 56 schools are in line to receive these alternative power systems.

Premier Winde concluded, “In just under 2 years we have made significant progress in tackling the energy crisis, which has plagued our country for over 16 years now. There has been a reprieve from load shedding in the short-term. At least we will be better prepared in the Western Cape for its unwelcomed return.”

To watch a recording of the briefing, please visit: https://www.youtube.com/live/A-3A9M_iyNw?feature=shared

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of South African Government.