Western Cape Government’s energy summit

Western Cape Government’s immediate energy summit in wake of President’s announcement

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, July 29, 2022/ — Just days after President, Cyril Ramaphosa, unveiled his government’s energy crisis plan, The Western Cape Government (WCG) wasted no time in intensifying its efforts to tackle the country’s power generation issues.

As part of the WCG’s ongoing efforts, bold proposals and solutions were put on the table for serious and speedy consideration. Included in that were measures the WCG firmly believes will help end power cuts and other impediments to energy generation:

  • Independent power producers: The summit was told there has been an encouraging response from the IPP market nationally since the announcement of the exemption for licensing embedded generation plants under 100 MW, with more expected following the removal of licensing requirements. The Provincial Government is working with municipalities to plan for increasing renewable energy implementation on municipal networks to support the connection of these IPPs to the grid.
  • Green hydrogen: Green hydrogen has great potential to help alleviate the energy shortfall. It can be used for transport fuels and exported to fuel the international drive for net zero carbon. Exploration is under way to take advantage of the Western Cape being well positioned to produce green hydrogen.
  • Skills: Retaining skills and attracting people who no longer work in the various fields of power production to come back to service was also a strong feature.
  • Energy wheeling: This is the trading of electricity across an Eskom or municipal grid. It enables energy generators to sell electricity to a remotely located end-user by using an existing distribution and transmission system. Attendees heard how wheeling provides better services to customers and stimulates competitiveness in the energy market. A wheeling pilot project, run by George Municipality, is already under way in the province, and the City of Cape Town’s pilot wheeling project will soon go live.
  • Pooling buying facility: This would enable a number of municipalities to collectively buy power from several large IPPs. There was general support at the summit for exploring the viability of the model in the province.
  • Small-scale embedded generation (SSEG) feed-in programme: There was consensus that the Western Cape leads the way in enabling this measure and the WCG enthusiastically promotes this by supporting the regulatory environment and feed-in tariff development for SSEG across municipalities.
  • Battery storage: This technology provides new opportunities for energy resilience globally and is also an exciting industry for investment potential in the province.

Yesterday’s summit, organised by the Provincial Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, Mireille Wenger, under the theme “Mapping Our Energy Pathway”, saw role players and stakeholders from across the energy spectrum – including officials from the Provincial Government, City of Cape Town, George Municipality and Eskom – gather to put their heads together to find lasting solutions.

Even if varying approaches to addressing the energy crisis were presented, there was no doubt among attendees that our economic potential is being impeded

“The WCG has never shied away from working collaboratively in times of crisis. This is why we arranged this gathering: to pick the brains of some of the country’s leading experts in the energy sector,” Premier Alan Winde said, following the summit.

He added: “While I cautiously welcomed the President’s interventions, I am concerned over the implementation of the proposed measures. This issue was raised repeatedly at the summit.”

“This is one reason why the WCG called the summit; to not only talk about what we and our partners can do together but to plan and speedily execute interventions,” explained the Premier.

Another issue that emerged was the critical need for partnerships. One City of Cape Town delegate remarked: “We cannot do this alone.”

The Premier stressed it was also pointed out that economic growth and job creation are being held back by ongoing load shedding.

He said: “Even if varying approaches to addressing the energy crisis were presented, there was no doubt among attendees that our economic potential is being impeded. This cannot be disputed.”

All recommendations emerging from the summit will now be sent to the Provincial Cabinet for consideration and implementation. Furthermore, the WCG is hosting its “Cabinet Meets Business” event next month. Among those invited is Eskom Group Chief Executive Andre de Ruyter. It serves as a perfect opportunity for us to again put our heads together, across the board, to address the electricity crisis.

The Premier concluded: “It was emphasised at yesterday’s gathering that Eskom is not the “enemy in the room”.  The WCG will help the utility in any way it can to fix it.”

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