Mayor Solly Msimanga is spearheading a drive for renewable and sustainable energy use in Tshwane, Centurion Rekord reports.
The drive will start with the municipality’s own buildings.
Speaking to ambassadors at the annual Ambassadors Luncheon recently, Msimanga listed several green-energy initiatives.
The event was co-hosted by the Southern African-Netherlands Chamber of Commerce and the Tshwane Economic Development Agency.
Msimanga said the city planned to install PV panels on all municipal buildings’ rooftops “so as to demonstrate how these can be taken off the grid and reduce operating expenses”.
The first building earmarked for the initiative would be the HP Phillips building. It is being refurbished and the refurbishment process would include the greening of the building.
Msimanga told the gathering the city had a spectrum of renewable-energy projects at various stages of development.
“The most common and popular renewable source, namely solar, has exploded in the city as several privately driven solar installations are emerging throughout the city, the most visible at our shopping malls,” said Msimanga.
He said the metro’s baseline carbon footprint for the financial year 2014/15 showed the city emitted 28 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per annum.
“At least 10 million of that is due to our electricity consumption as our electricity has mostly been produced from coal-fired power stations, a decidedly unsustainable way of meeting our needs. Our emissions will certainly exacerbate as we attempt to address suppressed and unmet demand through this dirty source of electricity.”
He said this would place international commitments at risk, as the metro was a signatory of the Compact of Mayors and a member of the C40 Climate Leadership Group.
“We are in the process of determining our emissions-reduction target as we develop our Climate Response Plan, and the only way we could cut our stationary emissions was by diversifying our energy mix through the inclusion of renewable sources.
More smaller consumers were following this trend.
“As the price of PV goes down, people are doing the calculations and realising it is more cost-effective over time to make this initial investment than to buy electricity from the city or Eskom.”
He pointed out many Tshwane residents had no access to electricity and the burgeoning informal settlements were often unserviced.
“It is here the city sees tremendous opportunity for the application of renewable-energy technologies.”
The municipality has expedited the development of the small-scale embedded-generation policy council, which was recently approved for public consultation.
Jan Huesken, deputy head of mission at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, told the gathering that Africa faced enormous challenges in producing energy.
“Energy-related bottlenecks cost Africa between two percent and four percent in GDP annually. If we can turn this figure around, the potential effect on social and economic development is significant,” said Huesken.
He said in order to innovate we would have to think differently.
“The traditional model of large industrial-scale energy providers and dispersed everyday consumers is now outdated.”
The Dutch energy institute ECN had, for example, developed a PowerMatcher concept that facilitates the implementation of Smart Grids, which connect many small-scale energy producers and consumers to form a single, flexible entity in what they call “intelligent clustering”.
“We believe such systems are the future for energy production and use.”
– Caxton News Service