The Association of Municipal Electricity Utilities Southern Africa (AMEU) recently hosted their annual convention where they discussed the impact of the just energy transition. Industry thought leaders highlighted that although challenges exist, municipalities where uniquely positioned to reap many opportunities from the transition.
Speakers from the City of Cape Town and the City of Johannesburg in South Africa spoke about the proposed strategic framework for implementing the just energy transition in municipal electricity utilities. Both municipalities have already started exploring potential business models and new ways to assist in the transition and what they call “utilities of the future”. These climate action plans will assist the municipalities to respond to the just energy transition in a non-reactive manner.
Leila Mahomed Weideman, City of Cape Town director: sustainable energy markets, highlighted that although all municipalities will experience the transition differently, it was important all started planning, research and to prioritise communication and collaboration. The City of Cape Town has started looking for innovative finance solutions to further bolster their transition efforts and explore all opportunities.
An idea express throughout the convention was that municipalities are uniquely positioned to benefit from the just energy transition and the transition needs to play out on a municipal level. Municipalities have extensive infrastructure that will allow them to jumpstart the transition, from grids to transport infrastructure that is dealt with primarily on a local level. This puts the grids and transport infrastructure in the driving seat when it comes to the transition.
South Africa has the advantage that it can drive extensive decarbonisation at a relatively low cost due to its solar and wind energy potential. These renewable energy projects need to be carried out on a municipal level where they will have insurmountable benefits. Municipalities need to be empowered through government and private sector investments to lead the energy transition.
Dr Clinton Carter-Brown, energy centre manager at the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR): “The just energy transition is about partnerships for municipalities. Technology disruption is deep and accelerating and customers have increased options. This provides more opportunities for municipalities if proactively managed. New business models and proactive strategies are needed to ensure that opportunities in this space are realised.”
To learn more about how energy resilience impacts municipalities, watch the full digital event session Municipal resilience in South Africa.