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Gauteng to procure 800MW of solar energy to curb load shedding

The Gauteng Provincial Government is also announced a programme to install rooftop solar panels in government buildings.

The Gauteng Provincial Government has announced plans to release in excess of R1.2 billion which will go towards resolving the energy crisis in the province. Gauteng’s Premier, Panyaza Lesufi, revealed the plans during the State of the Province Address in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature on Monday.

“In a few weeks, we will appoint six developers who will commence the construction of an 800 megawatts solar farm in Merafong. This will be followed by the installation of rooftop solar panels in government buildings, especially hospitals, clinics and schools,” said Gauteng Premier, Panyaza Lesufi.

“As Gauteng, we have been working on finding solutions to the energy crisis. We have established an energy crisis response team that engages with the National Energy Committee and working with local government and energy experts,” Lesufi added.

With state-owned utility Eskom battling to keep the lights on for the past few months, leading to increased stages of load shedding and a devastating impact on lives, livelihoods and businesses. Several municipalities and provincial governments in South Africa are working on plans to procure electricity from more sources besides Eskom to reduce the occurrence of load shedding (power blackouts).

“We will engage with Johannesburg Municipality’s City Power as well as Tshwane’s Rooiwal facility with an intention of supporting them to expand and generate more power. We will meet with owners of Kelvin Power Station to establish how we can partner with them to limit load shedding in Gauteng. From next week, we will advertise a call for proposals for alternative suppliers of energy that can contribute to a solution of the energy crisis and the reindustrialization of Gauteng,” he said.

The Premier welcomed the declaration of the National State of Disaster, which was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) earlier this month. The President explained that the declaration will enable the government to “provide practical measures” to assist businesses that have been devastated by the effects of load shedding.

Where technically possible, it will also enable the government to exempt critical infrastructure such as hospitals and water treatment plants from load shedding.

It will enable the government to accelerate energy projects and limit regulatory requirements while maintaining rigorous environmental protection as well as procurement principles and technical standards.

Furthermore, a Minister of Energy in the Presidency is expected to be appointed to focus solely on bringing the country out of the current energy deficit.

Prior to the declaration, the government had already been working on ending load shedding as the President announced a plan to address the crisis in July 2022. The plan was developed through extensive consultation and endorsed by energy experts as providing the best and fastest path towards energy security.

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