City of Cape Town to stimulate increasing need for solar energy

Helicopter view of Cape Town
A helicopter's view of Cape Town.

The City of Cape Town is working its plans to establish an appropriate business model to stimulate the uptake of solar photovoltaic systems. This announcements follows the need for aggressive renewable energy targets.

The number of increasing customers installing rooftop solar photovoltaic infrastructure is evident and the costs are perceived to be prohibitive by most residents. The City has announced that a letter of collaboration has been signed with the United States Agency for International Development and the Southern Africa Energy Program to investigate appropriate mechanisms to unlock access to the benefits of this technology for more of Cape Town’s residents.

With the investment in and the rolling out of renewables is the obvious way forward for a progressive city, Cape Town intends to grow its status as the green economy hub of Africa. However, this comes with certain barriers.

The City recognises that the facilitation of the move to sustainable models are necessary for creating an environment which allows for the private sector to move safely and legally towards investment into and adoption of these options. Solar projects will become more economically viable only if adoption rates are increase, solid public-private partnerships are formed and clear regulatory frameworks are put into place.

There are various models to institute this, for instance:

  • Nelson Mandela Bay municipality’s model prescribes that investors can pay for solar panels to be installed at private homes and then be reimbursed according to how much energy is transmitted back onto the network
  • the City could invest in the capital cost of the infrastructure and then have residents pay this back either via their electricity invoice or property rates.
  • through community or co-operative funding mechanisms.

The study’s aim is to identify the most appropriate mechanisms for Cape Town’s customers, based on legal and technical factors which would be most attractive to residents.

The City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Informal Settlements, Water and Waste Services; and Energy, Councillor Xanthea Limberg comments:

‘The City is determined to build a more secure, cleaner and affordable energy future and we know that the technological solutions already exist to enable us to do this. This collaboration will bring us that much closer towards meeting our renewable energy targets by identifying solutions to the barriers that make it difficult for residents to access to clean and affordable electricity”.

“We have a number of initiatives under way to release Cape Town from its heavy reliance on Eskom. I am confident that the outcomes of this work will be hugely valuable in our committed drive to building a low carbon, resilient and resource-efficient city.”

“This move also helps to position the Cape Town as  a centre for green business and the growth of the renewable sector helps to preserve our environment. Apart from this though, research and development, design, manufacture and the installation and maintenance of small-scale embedded generation systems and services all provide economic opportunities.”

Residents will be required to register and to obtain authorisation for their rooftop PV systems in accordance with the City’s Electricity Supply By-Law.

Connecting a small-scale embedded generation system to the grid can pose a safety risk. It is important to ensure that all generating equipment is approved and install correctly. Residents have until the 28th of February 2019 to register their systems after which they will be liable for a service fee and possible electrical disconnection if fount to have installed this system without the relevant approvals in place with the exception of solar water heaters.