Cape Town Launches $66 Million Solar PV Project With Help From C40 & GIZ

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South Africa is in the midst of its worst ever electricity rationing program due to depressed generation capacity resulting from several factors, including frequent breakdowns at its aging coal power plants. This electricity rationing is costing the country hundreds of millions of dollars per year. The City of Cape Town is working to reduce the impact of electricity rationing in the city in the near future, and ultimately, to eliminate it all together. The City is busy implementing several projects to achieve this. On the 6th of April, the City issued its largest power tender yet, seeking to buy 500 MW of dispatchable energy on the open market. This is the final phase of a three-phase procurement to protect residents from the first four stages of Eskom’s load-shedding within three years.

The City is also planning to award contracts for a 200 MW renewable energy procurement from Independent Power Producers this year as well. The Power Heroes Programme tender is expected to be awarded within the next few weeks, which will entail incentivized voluntary energy savings via automated remote switching off of power-intensive devices at peak times.

Cape Town is the first city in the country to offer households and businesses cash for power from their solar PV systems, with the feed-in tariff set to increase by 10.15% for 2023/24, plus a 25c per kWh incentive.

In another interesting development, Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis has announced that the City will design, build, and operate a R1.2 billion ($66 million) solar PV plant with battery storage capable of providing up to a full stage of load-shedding protection. This is one of two projects awarded support from the C40 Cities Finance Facility (CFF), which offers cities technical and financial assistance in support of a green and just transition.

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The C40 Cities Finance Facility (CFF) facilitates access to finance for climate change mitigation and resilience projects in cities. The CFF is also a UNFCCC award-winning project preparation facility and it focuses on three components: preparing climate relevant infrastructure projects for financial readiness, linking projects to finance, and replicating and upscaling projects, proven approaches, and instruments. The CFF focuses on the sectors of mobility, renewable energy, waste management, and nature-based solutions, providing benefits including employment opportunities, improving citizens’ health, and social equity. The CFF initiative is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Government of the United Kingdom, and the Agence Française de Development (AFD), and is implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH together with the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group.

From left to right: Henri-Pierre Gebauer, Lead City Operations CFF; Cathy Cherubo C40; Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis, German Consul General Ms Tanje Werheit, Deputy Mayor Eddie Andrews, and Thomas Schaef, GIZ Country Director.

“It gives me great pleasure to announce that the City’s Paardevlei ground mounted solar PV and battery storage project just outside Somerset West will yield up to 60MW of renewable energy — enough to protect against one full stage of Eskom’s load-shedding. The C40 CFF will support the project team in their efforts to undertake a technical feasibility study. This project is another critical step in our journey away from Eskom reliance and towards a load-shedding-free Cape Town. We are confident that Cape Town will be the first metro to free our economy from power disruptions, and ensure a green and just energy transition,” said Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis.

The feasibility study for the Paardevlei plant will be complete by the end of 2023, with full commissioning of the plant estimated by August 2026. The plant is envisaged for the portion of Paardevlei that is not developable for human settlements purposes.

Thomas Schaef, Country Director GIZ South Africa, Lesotho and eSwatini, said, ‘The cooperation agreement between the City of Cape Town and the C40 Cities Climate Facility shows the importance of international cooperation to generate actions that benefit the population. The energy and climate projects supported by C40 CFF will not only improve energy security and living conditions, but will also contribute to the South African government’s commitment to become carbon neutral and resilient.”

“Through the CFF program, implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, the capacity of cities to access financing for climate change projects are strengthened.”

Mayor Hill-Lewis also recently tabled the City’s Building Hope Budget for 23/24, with a R2.3bn plan to end load-shedding over three years, inclusive of funding towards the Paardevlei solar PV plant.


Image courtesy of the City of Cape Town

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Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai

Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since.

Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has 761 posts and counting. See all posts by Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai