Makhura seeks alternative energy sources to ease Gauteng's load shedding headache

2020-02-25 13:06
David Makhura.

David Makhura. (Mary-Ann Palmer )

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Gauteng Premier David Makhura will be seeking alternative ways of sourcing energy in the wake of rolling blackouts by embattled Eskom.

Speaking at the State of the Province Address (SOPA) in Ga-Rankuwa in Pretoria on Tuesday, Makhura said with the aid of the South African Local Government Association (Salga) he will request that Minerals and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe unlocks renewable energy projects, in line with the window of opportunity opened by the Integrated Resource Plan.

"We will ensure that we use this opportunity to fast track the development of alternative energy sources in our province and unlock the potential that is lying in our three metros which have either decommissioned energy or they are undertaking new energy resources," he said.

Makhura added that the provincial government will take decisive steps to increase the availability and use of gas, fast track shovel-ready solar energy projects, recommission mothballed power stations and promote hydrogen fuel cell technology in new developments across the Gauteng city region.

ALSO READ | PICS: Mamelodi flood victims protest at Gauteng SOPA, saying Premier Makhura broke his promise to relocate them

During the State of the Nation Address, President Cyril Ramaphosa said municipalities in good standing would be allowed to procure their own power from independent power producers (IPPs).

The president said over the next few months government would implement measures to "fundamentally change the trajectory of energy generation in our country".

Load shedding was expected to remain a possibility for the immediate future.

Makhura's commitment to renewable energy came in the wake of a protest in Soweto with residents showing their frustration over days-long electricity cuts, News24 reported earlier.

Soweto residents owe Eskom nearly R18bn as part of a culture of non-payment that went back to the days of apartheid.

In one of his weekly newsletters, Ramaphosa took a stern position on non-payers, blaming them for being partly to blame for the power utility's woes.

Gauteng faces serious water risks

In 2016, Makhura's government adopted an energy security strategy, establishing the Gauteng energy office with the key objectives to diversify the energy mix and expand energy generation capacity.  

"However, the strategy could not be implemented because there was no national policy to support decentralised energy security initiatives. In addition, some of our metros undermined the initiatives by putting politics before the interest of the entire GCR [Gauteng city region]," Makhura said.

Makhura also raised concerns over the scarcity of water in the province.

The province used almost double the world average in a day per person and 65 litres above the national average. 

To mitigate against this challenge, Makhura said provincial government will increase investment in bulk water infrastructure to diversify the water mix. 

He added that the province will deploy new and smart technologies to capture groundwater, reuse waste water for other purposes, the treatment of acid mine drainage and rainwater harvesting.

"In 2019, we commissioned the GCR observatory to develop the water security plan for the province and neighbouring regions. The plan is in the final stages of consultation and will be unveiled in May this year.”

Gauteng will also establish a GCR-wide War Room on water security composed of national departments and agencies, specialists from water research institutes and municipalities with a mandate to implement the Gauteng water security plan. 

The province uses 300 litres per person per day, with the world average at 173 litres per person per day and the national average of 235 litres per person per day.

Read more on:    anc  |  eskom  |  david makhura  |  load shedding  |  politics

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