Africa’s financial capital, Johannesburg, has announced plans to meet 35% of its power needs from renewable energy sources, the municipality said in a presentation on Thursday. The City of Joburg will seek proposals for privately supplied renewable energy by August. Johannesburg is also gearing up to issue a request for information for the construction of a 150-megawatt solar plant, as well as 50 megawatts of rooftop solar panels.
The City of Joburg also plans to seek information for the installation of a 100 megawatts battery energy storage system (BESS).
South Africa’s state owned utility Eskom which supplies 95% of the country’s power needs has been battling to supply power to South African cities consistently. With persistent power blackouts known in South Africa as load shedding predicted to last for the next 5 years, many municipalities are now looking for alternative sources of power to plug the electricity supply gap.
“We would need to go out to the market to ask for independent power producers for an expression of interest to find out how many of them are able to come with their own capital,” said Paul Vermeulen, chief engineer for renewable energy at City Power.
City Power, the municipality’s power utility, says it will enter into long term power purchase agreements with IPPs for the purchase of renewable energy.
Joburg to utilise SA’s power sector reforms
The South African government this year announced amendments to the country’s electricity regulations to allow municipalities to purchase power from sources other than Eskom, effectively breaking the utility’s monopoly of power supply in South Africa. Many municipalities in South Africa including the City of Joburg have announced plans to utilise the amendments to the regulations and develop own generation capacity as well as procure power directly from IPPs.
The government is also amending the Electricity Regulation Act to allow for self generation systems of up to 10MW to be exempted from licensing by the regulator NERSA. A study by local think tank, Meridian Economics, found that up to 5 000 MW of additional generation capacity could be unlocked in the near term if South Africa raises the threshold by to 50 MW.
South Africa is hoping its power sector reforms will kick start its economic recovery process from the COVID-19 devastation and bring in much needed foreign direct investment. The government is rolling out a series of new procurement initiatives for renewable energy with an estimated 6,8GW planned for procurement over the next year. South Africa’s previous bid windows for renewable energy attracted around US$20 billion in investment in less than a decade.