The city authority wants a developer to build a 7MW solar project for it as part of a push to expand its sources of electricity, and says clean energy will be cheaper than grid electricity – largely coal-fired – from Eskom.
The campaign by The cap take control of South AfricaThe municipality’s electricity supply away from the debt-ridden national utility prompted the city to issue a tender for its first grid-connected solar power plant.
The planned solar project, in Atlantis, north of South Africa’s legislative capital, would be operational in 2024 and provide 14.7 GWh of clean energy per year for 20 years from its 7 MW generating capacity , according to the Cape Town Municipal Government website, which contained details of the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) services tender this week.
Former Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato announced in October 2020 his intention to encourage all cities in South Africa to to turn away from the state electricity company Eskom and secure electricity supply from independent generators instead.
At that time, it was unclear whether a recent change to national energy rules that allowed cities to source electricity from non-Eskom entities – a change made after a legal challenge by the Cape Town authority – would also affect power stations owned by the city authorities themselves. Recent developments in Cape Town suggest this is the case.
Plato had expressed a desire to escape regular blackouts – called shedding – which afflict his town and other towns supplied by Eskom. His successor as mayor, fellow Democratic Alliance politician Geordin Hill-Lewis, praised other steps Cape Town has taken to free itself from public service.
Hill-Lewis said this week that the city – one of South Africa’s three capitals, along with Pretoria and Bloemfontein – had allocated ZAR 15 million ($847,000) to a feed-in tariff program to pay small producers R1.01 for every kWh they feed into the city grid; had recently changed rules to allow commercial and industrial solar generators to sell electricity to the city grid; and is launching a tender to purchase electricity from 200 MW of independent power plant capacity.
Reuters had reported in October 2020 that the city was looking to source power from 300MW of clean energy capacity within five years.
The EPC tender for the Atlantis solar power plant is due to close on October 25.
Quoted on the Cape Town government website, Hill-Lewis said: “The city currently buys most of its electricity from Eskom. Eskom’s high price increases expected in the future may not be financially viable for the city and its residents. The Atlantis solar power plant is expected to improve the financial viability of the city, as the cost of generating electricity would be lower than… bulk supply from Eskom. Reducing…reliance on Eskom also means the city can develop and explore more climate-friendly energy sources than Eskom’s coal-fired power stations.
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