Africa cities

SOUTH AFRICA: Cities can buy directly from IPPs

A green energy revolution is unleashed in major cities in South Africa such as Johannesburg in the northeast and Cape Town, located on the southwest coast of South Africa. The Ministry of Energy decided in October 2020 to allow major cities to source electricity directly from Independent Power Producers (IPPs) of renewable origin.

This long-awaited possibility was the subject of a complaint filed in February 2019 by the city of Cape Town against the Department of Energy. “The city is fighting for its right to buy clean energy directly from IPP. We are doing everything in our power to break out of our dependence on Eskom to meet our energy needs. At the same time, we are trying to be more climate resilient and greener by using clean energy sources and gas,” said Phindile Maxiti, director of energy and climate in Cape Town.

The country produces as much CO2 as the United Kingdom, whose economy is 8 times larger.

The authorization from the Department of Energy thus allows the major South African cities to gradually wean themselves off the public electricity service provided by Eskom, which has subjected them to untimely load shedding over the past 13 years. In addition to energy independence, this measure also allows major cities in South Africa to participate in climate action by reducing their dependence on coal, which provides more than 90% of the energy distributed by Eskom. Eskom is the country’s biggest polluter, accounting for around 40% of greenhouse gas emissions. Its fleet of coal-fired power stations pushes the country to produce the same amount of greenhouse gases as the United Kingdom, whose economy is eight times larger.

Now that direct supply from renewable IPPs is permitted, Johannesburg, the country’s largest city and financial hub, is considering sourcing electricity from solar power plants and landfills, where gas from decaying waste can be used to generate electricity. Cape Town plans to build a 300 megawatt solar photovoltaic power plant by 2023. “If full clarity is achieved and plans move forward, we could begin to see greater diversification of our energy resources as a city in about three to five years,” says Kadri Nassiep, Cape Town’s executive director for energy and climate change.

Boris Ngounou