Gauteng goes solar

2013-05-30 22:11


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Johannesburg - A project to install rooftop solar panels on government buildings in Gauteng will begin in the 2013/14 fiscal year, a member of the executive council for infrastructure development said on Thursday.

"This will enable us to harness the sun’s rays to meet, in part, government’s energy needs," Qedani Mahlangu said while tabling the department's budget vote.

The project was expected to cost about R11.2bn, and could generate up to 300MW of electricity.

"The entire project will be self-funding, from existing financial resources meant for current electricity costs," she said.

The roll-out would also drive job creation and enterprise development, as the project had local content requirements.

The infrastructure development department's budget allocation grew by four percent on the previous year, to R1.47bn.

On the education front, 14 new schools would be built and 29 projects would be undertaken to restore existing school infrastructure.

Mahlangu said the cost of building a school in Gauteng was not comparable with that in other provinces, because the market realities, the size and quality of schools vastly differed.

Job creation in Gauteng would receive a boost with a R130m allocation to the expanded public works programme (EPWP), and R224m to community-based programmes.

Recruit techies

"For the 2013/14 financial year, our target is to create 118 581 employment opportunities at provincial level, and 77 289 at municipal level, through the revamped EPWP."

The programme aimed to benefit 65 220 women, 47 432 youth and 2 372 people with disabilities.

Mahlangu said the department aimed to transform itself into the premier construction and project management organisation in the provincial government, able to compete with the private sector in terms of efficiency, effectiveness, and innovation.

A departmental scan had identified a need to review the department's integrated systems, skills shortages in key strategic and operational areas, and its organisational structure.

The scan found that the department’s human resources employed 80% administrative staff, and only 20% technical staff.

"We have, over the past year, undertaken a concerted drive to recruit the technical expertise that will enable us to execute... construction and maintenance work..."

Until now, 214 technical staff, including 143 artisans and 71 engineers, had been appointed, and another 42 technical posts were in the process of being filled.

The department would also renew its efforts to attract and retain the necessary technical expertise at all levels.

Mahlangu said the department operated at the "coalface of service delivery".

Gas pipelines

To secure reliable support services, qualified professionals had been deployed as resident engineers in charge of maintenance at hospitals, including Chris Hani Baragwanath and Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospitals.

The department had developed a support structure which committed to attending to minor breakdowns within 24-hours and to major breakdowns within seven days.

Artisans, engineers, technicians and inspectors at hospitals were able to carry out day-to-day maintenance and also respond to emergencies.

In March, Sasol’s monopoly of the natural gas industry would end, and the industry would then be regulated by the National Energy Regulator of SA. "Our first project is the replacement of the 77 coal-fired boilers in Gauteng hospitals with natural gas- or diesel-fired boilers," Mahlangu said.

This fiscal year, 21 boilers would be replaced and the rest would follow in the next three years.

"A study by iGas reveals that approximately 186km of additional natural gas pipeline infrastructure is required to supply natural gas to 25 hospitals at an estimated capital cost of R1.4bn."

The natural gas infrastructure would also benefit households, as the pipeline would run through townships and suburbs.

Initial research suggested that nearly half of the province's households were a potential market for natural gas reticulation for cooking and heating.

Read more on:    sasol  |  qedani mahlangu  |  johannesburg  |  environment

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