Cape Town to pay homeowners for their excess solar

Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis

Cape Town will pay residential households for excess power that they generate from their solar installations in a first for South Africa.

“We will buy as much solar power as households and businesses can sell to us,” mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said in a statement on Monday. Separately, the city will also allow businesses to sell energy to each other, which could add 350MW of decentralised electricity to Cape Town’s grid, he said.

South Africans endure regular blackouts because years of neglect and mismanagement have left Eskom, which operates as a monopoly, unable to keep up with demand. The nation is currently experiencing high levels of load shedding that entail as many as 10 hours without electricity a day.

Cape Town, the main tourist hub that’s been led by the opposition Democratic Alliance since 2006, has the most advanced plans to secure its own power.

According to the strategy, the city will add as much as 1GW of independently produced electricity “over time”, with the first 650MW of this within five years. That will include private small-scale embedded generation, and an independent producer programme.

Households can also agree to allow water-heating systems to be remotely switched off at peak times to avoid a full stage of load shedding.

Speaking in his state of the nation address on 9 February, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the end of load shedding is “finally within reach” because of the government’s interventions.

‘We must do it ourselves’

Geordin-Lewis countered the president’s assertion, saying that South Africa’s almost two-decade energy crisis has worsened.

Read: Shift to solar a big threat to South Africa’s municipalities

“The fact is that load shedding has got considerably worse after every such promise,” he said. “It should be obvious to all by now that we cannot wait for the same people who created the crisis to fix it. We must do so ourselves.”  — (c) 2024 Bloomberg LP

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