City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee Member for Energy and Climate Change, Councillor Phindile Maxiti – 26 February 2019
- The City of Cape Town has instructed its advocate to request that the North Gauteng High Court treat the pending court matter between the City, the Minister of Energy, and the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) as urgent
- This request aims to allow the City, and other municipalities across South Africa, to purchase energy from independent power producers (IPPs)
- The City is fighting for its right to buy cleaner energy directly from IPPs
We are doing everything possible to move away from sole reliance on Eskom for our energy needs while at the same time trying to become more resilient and sustainable through the use of cleaner energy such as renewable energy and transitional fuels such as natural gas.
It is vital that we future-proof our City to ensure that security of supply, and cleaner supply at that, is enhanced. As a responsible local government that is increasingly becoming internationally recognised for our climate change programmes, we must move toward more sustainable, greener energy resources to meet our carbon-neutral commitments.
The City therefore wants a Section 34 determination in accordance with the New Generation Capacity Regulations in the Electricity Generation Act to allow us to procure up to 400MW of renewable energy from IPPs.
The price of power generated from IPPs would differ based on technology and the procurement process to be followed if the court case is successful. As an example, new wind power could come in below R0,80/kWh and so would solar photovoltaic (PV) power.
Concentrating solar power technologies, however, remain much more expensive. Wind and PV would compete favourably with new coal, but would still be slightly higher than the average cost of electricity if you consider the current fleet of coal-fired power stations.
- If we are allowed to procure renewable energy, we can reduce the long-term electricity costs for our residents and provide cleaner power. Currently, some 65% of the tariff that we charge customers for electricity goes toward the cost to buy electricity from Eskom
- The price for all renewables has fallen dramatically. For instance, wind energy is now far cheaper than new coal-fired generation
- For the sake of our country’s economy, the entire electricity regime urgently needs to be restructured
- The City is ready to be part of that change and move towards a low-carbon, diversified and regionalised energy system
This is not just a Cape Town battle. As a city, we encourage all other metros, as the growth engines of our country, to join us and to actively participate in constructive responses to mitigate the impact of the electricity supply shortage on the commercial sector especially. We as a city and as a country simply cannot afford the devastation that load-shedding has on our economy. In addition, given the governance issues that have again been raised regarding Eskom, it provides further imperative to ensure that we procure diversified energy sources.
What we have done so far:
- Energy2040 Goal: The City has demonstrated its commitment to accelerated climate action by signing the C40 Deadline 2020: Climate Action Planning in Africa and the C40 South Africa Buildings Programmes. This goal models a more resilient, resource-efficient and equitable future for Cape Town; it commits the City to diversifying Cape Town’s energy supply and of becoming significantly more energy-efficient and reducing carbon emissions
- Carbon neutrality by 2050: The City is currently in the process of building its evidence base towards planning for carbon neutrality by 2050 by updating the City’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory and updating its energy futures modelling
- Lower Carbon City Development: To achieve lower carbon city development and growth, significant efficiencies need to be realised across all sectors. With the transport sector in Cape Town driving energy consumption growth in the future, it is critical to reduce the number of private transport trips and travel distances. The City is trying to do this through transit-oriented development (densification around transport routes and nodes), travel demand management, higher vehicle occupancy and improved accessible, affordable, safe and user-friendly public transport
- Low-carbon New Build Programme: This programme focuses on developing and implementing transformational policies and programmes aimed at improving energy-efficiency performance and resource efficiency to ensure that all new buildings are designed and built to be carbon neutral, and that retrofits of existing buildings are as energy efficient as possible
- Feasibility of small City-owned renewable energy generation plants: The City is exploring the feasibility of building a fleet of smaller City-owned renewable generation plants and developing a ‘wheeling’ framework which will allow independent generators to sell electricity directly to electricity consumers embedded in the City’s electricity grid
- Cleaner supply: The City and US Trade and Development Agency have signed a R12,7 million donation agreement for a study to be conducted into the usage options of natural gas
- Waste-to-energy (WTE): Projects are being developed as part of the City’s Integrated Waste Management Strategy. Flaring of methane at the first WTE project (1MVA) kicked off in March 2018 at the Coastal Park landfill site. This process destroys the methane, which has a global warming potential approximately 25 times greater than carbon dioxide that is present in landfill. Not only does this offset carbon emissions, but gas that is converted to energy can be used to fuel a variety of operations. Similar work is under way at two other landfill sites
- Small-scale embedded generation/PV: The City has laid the foundation for the growth of small-scale embedded generation (SSEG) in Cape Town by implementing a policy and instituting SSEG tariffs. The City is working to increase the volume of SSEG installed by addressing existing barriers such as the cost of smart meters and lobbying for gaps in building wiring codes which do not fully cover all aspects of grid-connected small-scale embedded generation to be closed, among others
- Electric Vehicles (EV): Internationally, it is recognised that electric vehicles will be rapidly replacing combustion engine cars. EVs are cleaner, significantly cheaper to run and present an opportunity for reducing carbon emissions, particularly as the electricity grid becomes cleaner. The City’s work on the EV Framework, in collaboration with the Western Cape Government, manufacturers and other stakeholders will include developing charging station protocols, tariff structures for charging, considering EVs for City fleets and a pilot charging station rollout which includes spatial mapping
- Electricity Savings Campaign: This has been running since 2009 and targets residential and commercial consumers. It aims to reduce city-wide electricity consumption and the related carbon emissions, and to increase energy security through a wide range of behavioural and technological changes. The City also coordinates a public-private Energy Water and Waste Forum for the commercial sector to drive resource efficiency in this sector
- Energy efficiency in City’s own operations: The City is committed to improving the management of energy use in all municipal operations, to improve resource efficiency, reduce its carbon footprint and save money. From 2009 to 2016 the programme saved over 102 000 MWh, which translates into savings of R180 million and 101 000 metric tonnes of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent)
Metros must become the energy champions of their residents and of their commercial sector players.
It will be vital for the national government to open up the electricity generation environment if cities are to be able to reduce carbon emissions and if security of power supply is to be achieved.