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eThekwini releases a draft Energy Policy, city transitioning to renewables

eThekwini Municipality to generate its own power, reduce reliance on Eskom and buy power from IPPs (Independent Power Producers)

Durban – The eThekwini Municipality released a draft Energy Policy last month, the policy seeks to create an enabling environment for the execution of viable power infrastructure projects. The city plans to generate its own power and buy power from IPPs as Eskom sourced power becomes increasingly expensive and not in alignment with the city’s carbon neutrality ambitions to become carbon neutral by 2050. 

The public and all interested parties must submit comments on the draft policy by 15 January 2021, the city says.

Renewable hydrogen will play a key role in decarbonising the entire energy value chain

Sbu Ntshalintshali, Renewable Energies Manager

The Energy Policy will create a resilient, integrated municipal energy system with a diversified energy mix. Ethekwini Municipality is looking to pursue the least-cost energy generation model to provide clean reliable energy for Durban residents and businesses over the next 30 years. The Policy includes the eThekwini Integrated Resource Plan (EIRP), which is the first local government Integrated Resource Plan in South Africa. The EIRP is available for public consultation, together with the Energy Strategic Roadmap (2019) as the Draft eThekwini Energy Policy.

Energy Policy to facilitate eThekwini’s decarbonisation agenda

The Renewable Energies Manager in eThekwini Municipality’s Energy Office, Sbu Ntshalintshali, said the diversification strategy of energy supply will create sustainable jobs while restoring energy security.

“The development of the hydrogen economy will position Durban as a major exporter of green, blue and gray hydrogen. Key sectors of economy such as transport, buildings and industry will be deep decarbonised. We are facing unprecedented scenarios of shortages in the liquid fuel industry as well. Renewable hydrogen will play a key role in decarbonising the entire energy value chain,” said Ntshalintshali.

The Municipality cited the three main reasons for seeking to make the transition towards generating its own renewable power and purchasing it from Independent Power Producers (IPPs). These include:

  •  The cost of power from Eskom is higher than the IPP cost,
  •   Renewable content of the Eskom supply not being high enough to meet the City’s 2050 renewable target of 100 percent and.
  • The pressure that has been put by the carbon tax introduction on the private sector to reduce carbon emissions, which in turn pressures the Municipality to provide a low carbon source of power.

Breaking the Eskom monopoly

South African municipalities are moving towards a diversified and decentralised energy system after the government adjusted regulations to allow municipalities to source power from other sources besides the state utility Eskom. Eskom has been the sole supplier of electricity to South African cities and municipalities, supplying over 90% of the country’s total power needs. A series of load shedding events and blackouts has seen the government welcome the idea of municipalities generating their own power as Eskom power has not always been reliable. The yearly hikes in Eskom power tariffs means power has become expensive for most cities to continue having Eskom as the sole supplier of energy whilst IPPs are offering it at a cheaper rate.  

The Western Cape for example launched the Municipal Energy Resilience Project which seeks to assist municipalities to take advantage of the new energy regulations. This includes allowing the Western Cape Municipalities to purchase energy directly from Independent Power Producers (IPPs). 

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