Ethekwini to seek proposals for private power generation

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 Durban beachfront Picture: Soltan/Corbis via Getty Images
Durban beachfront Picture: Soltan/Corbis via Getty Images

Ethekwini, the South African municipality that includes the port city of Durban, plans to seek initial proposals for the construction of 400 megawatts of power generation.

The so-called request for information will be the first by a South African municipal area since the government said last year that cities could buy electricity from providers other than Eskom, the state utility that’s subjected the country to intermittent outages for over a decade.

The city will seek proposals next week for power generation from any technology, Sibusiso Ntshalintshali, project manager for renewable energy and gas at Ethekwini municipality, said by phone on Wednesday.

In addition to freeing cities in Africa’s most-industrialized nation from recurrent power outages, sourcing their own power is an opportunity to pivot to sources of energy that produce less or no greenhouse gas emissions. Almost all of Eskom’s power comes from coal.

Johannesburg and Cape Town have similar plans. The City of Johannesburg will issue a request for information for the construction of a 150-megawatt solar plant, 50 megawatts of rooftop solar panels and the refurbishment of an idle gas-fired plant that could generate 20 megawatts in September, the municipality said in a presentation early last month. It will also seek information for the installation of 100 megawatts of battery storage.

The cities will buy the power from private operators that construct the plants rather than run them themselves.

Ethekwini’s request for information will be followed by a more formal request for proposals, a key step to getting projects off the ground, by the end of the year.

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