Johannesburg takes first step in plan to end loadshedding

  • Johannesburg’s City Power announced that it has bought 92MW of electricity from independent power producers.
  • This marks the first step in the city’s goals to generate its own 500MW of power by 2030 in order to stave off loadshedding.
  • Four power producers have signed the deal, generating energy from waste, gas and solar sources.

The most populous and most economically important city in South Africa is Johannesburg. It is the reason that the ongoing BRICS summit is being held in the city and not in Cape Town, for example. With a multibillion-rand budget at its disposal, the city has been looking into ways to mitigate the economic impact of loadshedding since February.

On Thursday, City Power, Johannesburg’s electricity infrastructure firm, announced that it has finalised an agreement to purchase 92 megawatts (MW) of electricity from four independent power producers (IPPs) in order to stave off some of the blow of Eskom’s rotational power outages.

The purchasing of these megawatts forms part of the greater plan to lessen the impact of loadshedding in Johannesburg, which concludes in the city’s own generation of 500MW by 2030, according to the announcement.

Johannesburg’s MMC for Environment and Infrastructure Services Jack Sekwaila made the announcement of this first step, alongside the CEO of City Power Tshilufaro Mashava.

City Power doesn’t indicate where or when the new energy will be applied to Johannesburg’s energy mix, nor what the extent of the impact it will have on the city’s loadshedding. In terms of the origin of the megawatts, the entity says that the four IPPs generate power from a variety of sources.

These include waste to energy (20MW), gas to power (31MW) and photovoltaic solar generation (40.8MW). In particular, the IPP that offers gas to power generation will be giving City Power a 24/7 power generator.

“[The power purchase agreement is] a major step for City Power in its efforts to reduce reliance on Eskom. The power from the IPPs will be cheaper than what City Power currently procures from Eskom, and two of the IPPs are ready to connect to the grid immediately,” the announcement reads.

Additionally, the entity revealed a set of other initiatives to reduce the impact of outages. These include the installation of solar panelling on rooftops of over 700 sites across Johannesburg, as well as the building of over 20 000 rooftop water heating systems and geysers with a focus on low-income areas.

Earlier this year Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi said that the province was set to build a 800MW solar farm in Merafong, in the West Rand. This plant would generate electricity for nearby municipalities in efforts to cut back on loadshedding.

“City Power has done a lot of work throughout the years to put the City on a path where we can build towards a diversified energy mix and make energy more accessible and affordable for our customers,” City Power adds.

“The entity has been deliberate in ensuring that it moves from being an electricity company to an ENERGY company.”

[Image – Jack Carter on Unsplash]


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