Gauteng to establish solar park

20 February 2024 | SANews

The Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) will go ahead with plans to establish a solar farm park which is expected to harvest at least “800 megawatts of solar power and supply it to the electricity grid”.

This was revealed by Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi during the State of the Province Address delivered in Johannesburg on Monday.

“We are pleased to announce that the long term plan with Sibanye-Stillwater Board, has approved the land leases of the appointed six independent power producers who will develop a photovoltaic power station, also known as a solar farm cluster, in the Merafong Local Municipality.

“This is designed to harvest at least 800 megawatts of solar power and supply it to the electricity grid, which will be a game changer for our province,” he said.

Furthermore, the province is expected to add at least 100MW to the grid from April.

“This is an initiative of the GPG implemented by City Power on our behalf using the Open Cycle Gas Turbine technology facilities in Johnware and Durban Street. This will be available from the 1st of April 2024.

“We will continue to expand to 300 megawatts in the new financial year. This investment combined with smart metres can generate the megawatts needed to cushion our residents against two stages of load shedding, a critical step toward energy stability for the nation’s economic hub,” he said.

Other interventions

In the immediate term, the province has moved to protect some 21 healthcare facilities from load shedding with the installation of Solar photovoltaic (PV) and battery storage systems.

A pilot project for a microgrid in Alexandra township is also being rolled out which, the Premier said, will “provide a stand alone solution to meet basic power needs for low-income households within townships and informal settlements”.

The project is expected to expand to 13 other communities.

“Having identified the hardship of many of our communities languishing in the dark, some for up to three years due to illegal connections, cable theft, vandalism, and chronic non-payment, we intervened to address the situation,” Lesufi said.

The Premier added that the provincial government, together with Eskom and City Power, partnered to deliver some 429 transformers to communities.

“To date, 333 have already been installed and switched on, benefitting no less than 32 000 township households. We have impacted the communities of Kagiso, Boiphelong, Doornkop, Orange Farm and others.

“We will intensify this programme until every township and household has been legally switched on, especially Evaton, Ivory Park, Winterveld and many other communities,” he said.

Lesufi reflected on the effects that load shedding has on residents and the economy.

“The protracted electricity crisis has caused significant hardship for people in our province and has had a detrimental effect on the growth of Gauteng’s economy. Power shortages have a negative impact on the availability of healthcare services, food and water, the level of crime, and unemployment rates, amongst others.

“Although energy is not a competency of the province, load shedding’s crippling effect on the functionality of the state and its impact on broader society compelled us to intervene,” he said.

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