Gauteng Sets Sights on Solar Power to Diminish Loadshedding Woes

Massive 800MW Solar Project Unveiled to Secure Energy, Boost Economy

by Ikeoluwa Juliana Ogungbangbe
Gauteng Solar Energy Project

In a bold move to combat the persistent loadshedding crisis, Gauteng has embarked on an ambitious solar energy project, spearheaded by six independent power producers (IPPs). This initiative, which involves the development of a solar PV power station, is set to revolutionize the province’s approach to energy production and supply. Spread across approximately 1,500 hectares of land generously provided by Sibanye-Stillwater, the solar farm is poised to generate a minimum of 800MW, marking a significant leap towards energy self-sufficiency.

Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi recently shared the exciting news during his State of the Province Address, emphasizing the transformative potential of this solar farm cluster located in the Merafong Local Municipality. “This development is not just about power generation; it’s about powering our province’s future, ensuring we harvest and supply at least 800MW of solar power to the electricity grid,” Lesufi remarked, heralding the project as a game-changer for Gauteng.

The province isn’t stopping there; an additional 100MW is expected to be fed into the grid starting April, thanks to a separate initiative implemented by City Power using Open Cycle Gas Turbine technology. This near-term boost is part of a broader strategy to ramp up to 300MW in the upcoming financial year, a move that could shield residents from the effects of two stages of loadshedding.

In response to the immediate challenges posed by loadshedding, Gauteng has also taken protective measures for critical infrastructure. Twenty-one healthcare facilities have been equipped with solar PV and battery storage systems to ensure uninterrupted power. Moreover, a pioneering micro-grid project in Alexandra township is underway, promising to deliver a sustainable power solution for low-income households in townships and informal settlements. This initiative is set to expand to 13 additional communities, demonstrating a scalable model for energy resilience.

The Premier’s visit to Alexandra township, where the solar micro-grid project is taking shape, underscored the provincial government’s commitment to innovative energy solutions. In partnership with Eskom and City Power, Gauteng has also facilitated the delivery and installation of 429 transformers, improving electricity access for over 32,000 township households across Kagiso, Boiphelong, Doornkop, Orange Farm, and beyond. This program aims to ensure legal and reliable power for every township and household, with special attention to areas like Evaton, Ivory Park, and Winterveld.

The initiative reflects a proactive stance against the detrimental impacts of loadshedding on Gauteng’s residents and economy. The electricity crisis has inflicted considerable hardship, affecting healthcare services, food and water security, crime levels, and employment rates. By embracing solar energy and other renewable resources, Gauteng is charting a course towards a brighter, more sustainable future, alleviating the strain on its communities and fostering economic growth in South Africa’s economic heartland.

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