Cape Town at night. Picture: THE TIMES
Cape Town at night. Picture: THE TIMES

THE City of Cape Town has set its sights on becoming an "energy creator", saying it cannot leave its energy security in Eskom’s hands. The City has set a target of sourcing 10%-20% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020.

The municipality says it strongly feels that metros including Cape Town, need to take greater control of their energy requirements and not be subjected "to the vagaries of the national energy department".

"The City of Cape Town has taken a strategic decision to relook at our approach to energy and the very business model underpinning our electricity department.

"We have started work on a number of projects where we are creating a new model for energy-generation and distribution," Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille said at the weekend.

In her state of the province address last month, Western Cape premier Helen Zille said the province needed to diversify its energy mix, so that enough power could be created for growth that was sustainable and low carbon.

Through its "energy security game changer" plan, the provincial government aims to reduce its demand from the national grid by 10% in the next three years.

"To be successful, we will need to sign power-purchase agreements with independent power producers (IPPs), focusing on solar and wind energy, and import liquefied natural gas into the province on a large scale," according to Ms Zille.

Cape Town was engaging national government on building its own renewable energy plants, purchasing directly from IPPs, and bringing natural gas to the Western Cape.

Another vital component of the city’s energy-security programme is the installation of more than 45,000 solar water heaters on roofs across Cape Town.

"We are also the first city in South Africa with a feed-in tariff for households who are generating their own electricity through photovoltaic (PV) panels and want to feed excess electricity into the City’s grid," Ms de Lille said.

In addition, Cape Town has signed small-scale embedded electricity-generation contracts with Black River Park Investments and 17 other major industrial customers who are able to feed electricity into the city’s grid.

"We have also signed contracts with 43 residential customers who are able to feed into the City’s grid in a legal and responsible manner," Ms de Lille said.

Energy analyst Chris Yelland said there was nothing stopping municipalities from pursuing energy options. Renewable energy and liquefied natural gas present options for municipalities, and will lessen the pressure on Eskom.