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City Power eyes solar

Aug 10, 2023

To mitigate some of the challenges of load-shedding for Johannesburg residents, power utility City Power plans to roll out solar-powered street lights.

Eyewitness News reports that the power utility is looking to introduce the solar-powered street lights across the city within a month.

South Africans have had to contend with more than normal rolling blackouts over the past months, as power utility Eskom ramped up load-shedding.

According to Eyewitness News, City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena revealed that the solar-powered street lights will contribute to keeping residents safe during evening load-shedding.

Says Mangena: "When lights go off during load-shedding those apollo lights should remain on so that at least there could be some level of illumination so that people can be able to move around. Cars are hijacked during the darkness and people cannot walk around or do anything."

Mangena added that the initiative will also assist in preventing other government infrastructure, like traffic lights from being stolen or vandalised in the dark.

Meanwhile, the Johannesburg multi-party government this week announced that the power utility has gone to market to secure excess energy from alternative energy sources through short-term power purchase agreements of up to 36-months.

This follows five-months of consultations and with critical stakeholders, including national Departments of Treasury, Mineral Resources and Energy, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa, as well as the City of Cape Town.

By going out into the market now, City Power seeks to secure extra capacity from diversified energy sources, including solar, gas, battery storage, waste-to-energy, as well as the dispatchable option of gas-to-power, according to a statement.

"A city whose contribution to the national economy is almost 16%, while making up 40% of Gauteng's economy, cannot be left without energy for hours on end. As the Joburg Multi-Party Government, we are working so that you can work," says mayor Mpho Phalatse.

MMC for environment and infrastructure service Michael Sun adds: "The launch of the first phase of the independent power producer programme is the culmination of many hours of diligent work carried out by City Power; and while I am proud of the efforts thus far, this is only the beginning of the Multi-Party Government's determined effort to shield residents from the socio-economic poison of rolling blackouts."

City Power currently receives 90% of its electricity from Eskom and 10% from the Kelvin Power Station, an independent power producer.

Parallel to the short-term power purchase agreements, the city is currently undergoing an approval process for ministerial determination to procure power on a longer-term basis from IPPs, according to the statement.

City Power CEO Tshifularo Mashava states that the traditional business model of procuring the bulk of our power from Eskom is no longer viable.

"Eskom itself has conceded to that effect. It is for this reason that we have developed a sustainable energy strategy that includes procuring power from diverse sources."