Stellenbosch
Source: Stellenbosch Municipality

A panel of experts came together during the Enlit Africa digital event to discuss how energy resilience impacts municipalities and the take-home lessons from the support offered to municipalities in the Western Cape.

Energy resilience is not only about ensuring an entity has a regular and reliable supply of energy, and that contingency measures are in place in the event of a power outage; it also involves that entity’s ability to bounce back from an outage.

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For municipalities in South Africa, the need for energy resilience is particularly important and will be increasingly so as we move into the energy transition. As such, the Municipal Energy Resilience (MER) Project was launched to assist municipalities to take advantage of new energy regulations, which may include purchasing energy directly from IPPs.

The MER Project is meant to help municipalities across the Western Cape province to understand the requirements of the new national energy regulations and mitigate related risks as well as provide for network and operational capacity requirements for energy project development and procurement in municipalities.

The Association of Municipal Electricity Utilities (AMEU) has in recent years been helping municipalities with becoming more resilient, with extra focus placed on this venture in the past year. Strategic advisor at the AMEU, Vally Padayachee explains the reason for this focus: “South Africa is currently in an electricity security, supply and resilience crisis and this is indicated by the blackouts and rotational loadshedding due to shortages in generation […] Eskom’s system is in dire straits.”

Senior Operations Officer at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Tilana De Meillon speaks on the IFC’s aim to enable more private sector involvement in the market. She states that the IFC hopes to do this by making traditional sector investments and providing advisory services and capacity-building to private sector businesses and municipalities alike.

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“South Africa is not first in going through these challenges. We could learn quite a lot from other jurisdictions and geographies where there’s been a lot of success achieved in the municipal space and in municipal markets,” says De Meillon.

“There’s been a lot of focus on power generation within the municipal space of late including own supply, but also procurement from IPPs and wheeling. The main challenge is that it’s very new and still very much conceptual and not implemented at scale that will allow most stakeholders to become comfortable with it.”

De Meillon goes on to explain that the responsibility then falls on the shoulders of financiers like the IFC to step in and provide support to get municipal power generation to a commercial and comfortable level.

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Manager of Generation Development at the City of Cape Town, Shane Prins outlines the three main pillars in the City’s strategy to attain a higher level of municipal energy resilience:

  • Implementation and development of new power assets by the City
  • Implementation and rollout of IPP procurement programme for the City
  • Implementation of the energy efficiency programme

Prins emphasises the necessity of implementing this strategy to mitigate Eskom’s poor technical performance and combat expected above-inflation tariff increases. ESI

To learn more about how energy resilience impacts municipalities, watch the full digital event session Municipal resilience in South Africa.