Cape Town launches renewable energy tenders to make it SA's first 'load shedding-free city'

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Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis.
Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis.
Jan Gerber, News24
  • The City of Cape Town has launched tenders to procure 300 MW of renewable energy.
  • This is part of efforts to reduce the city's reliance on Eskom and to eliminate load shedding.
  • More procurement rounds for dispatchable generation projects and storage are planned.

The City of Cape Town has launched new tenders to procure as much as 300 MW of renewable energy, Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said on Wednesday

The mayor was speaking at the Solar Power Africa conference hosted at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. 

Two weeks ago, when the country was gripped by Stage 2 load shedding, Hill-Lewis issued a statement indicating the city planned to launch new tenders for Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

The IPPs are part of the city's efforts to reduce load shedding and its negative impacts. Hill-Lewis previously said that load shedding comes at the cost of failing businesses, and even job losses.

Speaking at the conference, Hill-Lewis said that Cape Town is working to be the first "load shedding-free city" in the country. The mayor added that growing the city's economy and businesses and getting people out of poverty requires a stable and secure electricity supply.

"We are particularly eager for proposals from IPPs that help us reduce reliance on Eskom during peak times of use and thereby eliminate load shedding," he said.

The city is open to proposals for generation projects, generation plus storage projects and storage projects only.

A second tender related to dispatchable generation projects will follow and over time the city plans to procure storage capacity.

Speaking to journalists on the side-lines of the conference, Hill-Lewis said that the procurement of generation has been limited to 300 MW for now as that is what the grid can handle at this stage. 

"As we grow that capacity over time, we can do more," he said.

The city plans to have the projects, mostly solar PV, constructed and connected in the next 40 to 50 months. "We understand construction is a long period and that is why we should start early," he said.

Reduced reliance on Eskom

The city uses 2 000 MW of power per day, the more it can secure power from independent producers the less reliant it will be on Eskom and can reduce load shedding over time, Hill-Lewis explained.

Another added benefit is the price of renewable energy - which is "fraction of the cost" of electricity generated by Eskom, he said.

"There are big benefits, but it does not mean eliminating Eskom altogether."

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