The Greenovate Awards triumph despite lockdown, with Stellenbosch

The winners of the student Greenovate Awards 2020 have been announced, but not with the usual gala ceremony. Instead, like the rest of the prestigious competition, the honours were conducted online following a uniquely challenging year.

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AECOM ready to help get R100bn Infrastructure Fund off the ground

AECOM, the global leader in integrated infrastructure, is poised to play a role in potential projects that have significant support from the R100-billion Infrastructure Fund announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in his State of the Nation Address on 11 February. This is according to Africa MD Darrin Green, who comments that there are opportunities in student housing, digitalisation and water infrastructure – all areas where AECOM has extensive experience and expertise.

President Ramaphosa stated that the Infrastructure Fund will blend resources from the fiscus with financing from the private sector and development institutions. Such partnering between government and the private sector is essential to get these projects off the ground and achieve results. Green notes that the government has also committed R791-billion worth of funding towards infrastructure in the 2021 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF). Here efficient procurement is key in terms of the government’s capacity to bring projects to market in a timely fashion.

“We are all aware of the need for sound procurement principles, but real innovative thinking needs to happen so that procurement can be dramatically accelerated to have the necessary impact on the economy – and quickly.”

AECOM Africa MD Darrin Green

He adds that the consulting engineering and construction sector has been in serious difficulty and shrinking for some time, certainly prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, and is steadily losing skills and capacity to support the infrastructure drive. “The emphasis needs to be on fast-track procurement and delivery,” urges Green.

The biggest opportunities in terms of infrastructure in Africa at the moment are: energy (particularly renewables such as hydro, wind and solar power), Environment, Social and Governance (ESG), digital-related infrastructure such as data centres, and basic infrastructure, especially in terms of water management, reuse and sustainability. Capacity and skills remain a challenge, while funding is always a constraint, especially where budgets are being redirected.

Looking ahead, Green predicts that 2021 is likely to be a year of consolidation and adaptation for AECOM. “The vaccine rollout will play a major role in both South Africa and the rest of Africa in terms of bringing back economic activity and confidence. The consulting engineering industry is key to economic recovery, being second in the supply chain after government and client procurement.”

On the international front, AECOM recently announced its ‘Think and Act Globally’ strategy to extend its industry-leading, global expertise to each of its projects around the world, transforming the way it delivers work through technology and digital platforms, and enhance its position as a leading ESG company.

Green highlights that this strategy is having a major impact in providing access to in-house subject matter experts around the world. “We now have prioritised time to talk with our global counterparts and share our expertise, opening up our knowledge networks exponentially. Also, as our digital communication tools utilisation becomes mainstream, accessing this network remotely has never been simpler, allowing innovative new client solutions to be shared quickly and efficiently.”

Here the focus is increasingly on digitalisation and innovation. “We certainly see these trends accelerating, and perhaps more so in Africa, where innovation and digital technology can leapfrog and bridge the relative absence of hard infrastructure,” notes Green. AECOM is spearheading all aspects of digital design tools, including virtual environmental stakeholder digital rooms and virtual whiteboarding tools for client planning sessions in the client interaction and project stakeholder realm. The use of remote sensing, drones and digital tools on-site for streamlining inspection requests, test results and approvals is also becoming more prominent, as with the pilot site at the Polihali Western Access Roads project in Lesotho.

Responding to the ongoing challenge posed by Covid-19 and the altered working landscape, Green stresses the importance of collaboration in meeting clients’ requirements in this difficult time. Face-to-face meetings, for example, have evolved into more complex remote experiences. However, technology tools and platforms are catching up. “The key is flexibility and using digital and physical tools to enhance the client experience in a tangible way through to the delivery of the project. Clients are now more digitally aware; we can provide digital twins for projects once the modelling is complete and work together to have efficient data at our fingertips,” elaborates Green.

“It is important to note that we can leverage AECOM’s world-leading skills for our clients. We can assist in more areas than one might realise – from digital engagement tools to ESG advisory to hard infrastructure and project management and controls. We strive for the flawless delivery of our projects. Considering all environmental impacts is crucial; at the core of what we do is our belief in building sustainable legacies. Sharing our significant internal data and solutions certainly allows us to build on our innovative experiences so that we keep improving and staying ahead of the pack,” concludes Green.

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REN21 report: Cities across Africa demonstrate progressive leadership to deploy renewables

The 2021 edition of REN21’s Renewables in Cities Global Status Report, shows that one billion people live in cities with a renewable energy target or policy. The number of cities that have enforced partial or complete bans on fossil fuels jumped fivefold in 2020.

With a special focus on sub-Saharan Africa, the report shows that despite many challenges, city governments across the region have taken important steps to advance the deployment of renewables.

Africa’s urban population increased more than 16-fold between 1950 and 2018, from 33 million to 548 million, and this rapid urban growth has been and remains a key driver of rising energy demand. Cities across sub-Saharan Africa increasingly recognise the opportunities around renewable energy use to improve energy access, reduce energy poverty as well as boosting the resilience and reliability of existing power systems.

City governments play a key role in shaping the energy landscape. At least 19 cities, including Cape Town (South Africa) and Kampala (Uganda) have renewable energy targets in place, and 34 cities have policies. Many cities in the region have joined global clean energy initiatives. For example, signatories to the Covenant of Mayors in sub-Saharan Africa (CoM SSA)[1] have voluntarily committed to implementing climate and energy actions in their communities.

The Climate Action Planning Africa Programme, led by C40 Cities, brings together eleven megacities in Sub-Saharan Africa that have pledged to become net-zero carbon by 2050.

Locally driven ambitions have led to positive outcomes

The report highlights the achievements of five very different and representative cities: Cape Town (South Africa), Dakar (Senegal), Kampala (Uganda), Tsévié (Togo) and Youndé IV (Cameroon). 

The City of Cape Town has been a pioneer in providing more affordable and secure energy access and in reducing the city’s carbon footprint.  In 2017, the City entered into a court challenge with the national government to enable it to purchase electricity from independent power producers (IPPs) and not be confined to procuring coal-fired power from Eskom. By 2019, Cape Town had the highest concentration of registered rooftop solar PV systems nationwide.

Dakar is home to 50% of Senegal’s urban population. Under the C40 Cities Leadership Programme, Dakar is committed to be net-zero carbon by 2050. The City’s transport plan articulates three ambitious infrastructure projects –train, bus and on-road transport – with a common goal of increasing the share of electrification and reducing fossil fuel dependence across these three transport modes while also reducing air pollution by 2030.

Kampala’s energy demand is dominated by the transport sector with inefficient transport modes driving up the city’s congestion. The SMART mobility program has enabled successful public-private partnerships, which in 2020 resulted in the use of more than 200 new and retrofitted electric motorcycles for public transport. The rise of electric mobility in Kampala is a strong example of how such relationships can be leveraged to advance the renewable energy agenda at a city level.

Tsévié has implemented a three-year municipal energy programme to boost local energy access and development. Under this flagship programme, the municipality aims to achieve its sustainability ambitions in four strategic areas: 1) sustainable biomass use, 2) deployment of distributed rooftop solar PV, 3) increased adoption of electric motorcycles and 4) a modal shift to public transport.

The city of Yaoundé IV rolled out a pilot project in 2019 to switch households from using LPG to biogas, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The success of the project has paved the way for similar programmes, notably ENERGIE PLUS, which seeks to build an industrial scale biogas plant to supply electricity to Yaoundé IV and its environs.   

Low-cost renewable energy can be a key lever to power economic growth

In addition to providing Sub-Saharan African cities with greater access to modern energy services, renewables also offer important co-benefits such as reducing air pollution, mitigating climate change, creating more liveable urban areas and enabling a better quality of life through increased access to basic services. However, municipal governments in the region face numerous barriers to the deployment of renewables. Key challenges include policy and regulation, underdeveloped grids and infrastructure, unstable off-taker arrangements, access to financial markets, data needs and technical capacity.

Although city authorities in sub-Saharan Africa may have limited influence over infrastructure and services, they can all take action to encourage local renewable energy deployment. Developing low-carbon pathways requires multiple collaborations across a broad range of stakeholders, including national policy makers. As the five case studies illustrate, progressive leadership has produced positive outcomes for renewable energy deployment.  


[1] The Covenant of Mayors for Sub-Saharan Africa(CoM SSA) was established in 2015 as part of the Global Covenant of Mayors, and by 2020 it had been signed by 175 local governments from more than 35 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa.

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If you’re looking for renewables, look no further than wood

The theme for this year’s International Day of Forests (IDF) is “Forest restoration: a path to recovery and well-being” and it’s one that resonates with the local forest industry.

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Cities can change the game in the fight against emissions and air pollution

Fossil fuel bans jump fivefold in 2020

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REN21’s new report shows that cities across Africa demonstrate progressive leadership to deploy renewables

The 2021 edition of REN21’s Renewables in Cities Global Status Report, shows that one billion people live in cities with a renewable energy target or policy.

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Cities can change the game: the fight against emissions and air pollution

Fossil fuel bans jump fivefold in 2020

The pandemic has thrown into stark relief the global battle of cities for cleaner air and a better future. The 2021 edition of REN21’s Renewables in Cities Global Status Report, the only stock-taking of cities’ energy transition efforts worldwide, shows that one billion people live in cities with a renewable energy target or policy,[i] The number of cities that have enforced partial or complete bans on fossil fuels jumped fivefold in 2020.[ii]

For the second year, REN21 takes the temperature of how cities worldwide use renewable energy to battle emissions to prevent air pollution and climate change.[iii] More than half of the global population lives in cities, which account for three-quarters of global final energy consumption.  

“With their impact at scale, cities are our best bet to plan, develop and build a renewable future. But all too often their potential for transformation remains massively underused,” says REN21’s Executive Director, Rana Adib. “It’s a tough job to turn low-carbon ambitions into reality in built and densely packed environments. National governments must put money, capacity and above all legislative powers into the hands of local authorities.”

Cities must transition to renewables and set end dates for fossil fuels in all sectors

A critical factor for the success of cities’ climate strategies is to rapidly replace fossil fuels with renewable energy in heating and cooling as well as in transport. These sectors are responsible for the biggest share of global emissions, and they are best addressed at the local level.

The report shows that often, purchasing renewable electricity for the city’s own operations is one of the first steps local leaders take. But according to Adib, this is not enough. “Cities like Hamburg, San Francisco and Shanghai show, the more ambitious they are, the more they think of renewable energy everywhere. They impose strict building codes and renewable energy obligations. But most importantly, they set an end date to the use of gas, oil and coal.”

By 2020, 43 cities had done so and enforced fossil fuel bans in heating and/or transport, five times as many as in 2019.[iv] In total, one billion people – about one-quarter of the global urban population – live in cities with a renewable energy target or policy.[v] “But as inspiring as these examples are,” says Adib, “we are still a far cry from what is needed to curb climate change in time.”

A flavour of clean air and clear skies  

Last year’s lockdowns with the sudden disappearance of traffic, the complete alteration of lifestyles resulting in cleaner air and less noisy environments, have given citizens a flavour of how alternatives to packed roads and polluted skies could look.

City leaders are now building on this momentum, moving away from polluting fossil fuels and building clean and resilient energy systems in their place. “Growing citizen support gives Santiago a real mandate to take action against climate change. Our residents demand that the government take bold measures,” explains Isabel Aguilera, Environmental Director for the city of Santiago (Chile).

The race towards renewables is an obstacle course

The Renewables in Cities 2021 Global Status Report also shows that besides emission reductions, many other local benefits await those who take their energy future into their own hands: from the creation of local jobs and welfare to greater quality of life and healthier citizens. “The transition to a zero-carbon economy presents tremendous economic development opportunities for Orlando and the Central Florida region, some that we are already beginning to see stimulate our local economy, improve public health, reduce environmental impacts, and create meaningful high-wage jobs for our residents,” says Mayor Buddy Dyer of the City of Orlando (Florida, USA).

Sometimes, like in recent examples from Japan and the Republic of Korea, city governments can even push national governments to be more ambitious.[vi] But, while the report features encouraging stories from all regions of the world,[vii] the large majority of cities have not yet figured out how to take ambitious action, or they lack the power and resources to do it.

“Provide cities around the world with support”

Even those who seem ready and willing to move forward, run into obstacles. All too often, powerful fossil fuel interests put a stop to cities’ decarbonisation plans.

“It’s a sad fact that wherever in the world cities seek to phase-out fossil fuels, the industry puts a lot of resources into fighting back.

“They take local authorities to court or, as seen recently in the US, convince state policymakers to make it legally impossible for cities to take such decisions at all,” says Adib.

Martina Otto, heading the cities work at the United Nations Environmental Programme, concludes: “There is huge untapped potential. We can both increase the level of ambition and progress in meeting national climate commitments if national and regional governments around the world provide cities with support well beyond the creation of better financial conditions. Getting over territorial boundaries to empower cities means unleashing the power of our strongest allies.”

About REN21 and the Renewables in Cities Global Status Report

REN21 is the only global renewable energy community of actors from science, governments, NGOs and industry. We provide up-to-date and peer-reviewed facts, figures and analysis of global developments in technology, policies and markets. Our goal: enable decision-makers to make the shift to renewable energy happen – now.

The Renewables in Cities Global Status Report is an annual stock-take of the global transition to renewable energy at the city-level. The 2021 edition has been co-authored by over 330 experts and is endorsed by an Advisory Committee of 20 organizations including city networks. 


[i] 1,300 cities worldwide have either a renewable energy target or policy in place. Globally, over 830 cities in 72 countries have binding renewable energy targets and around 800 cities have implemented policies to help advance renewables in their cities.  See table below for more details.

Selected countries with renewable energy targets, net-zero targets and/or policies in cities

 Cities with renewable energy targetsCities with net-zero targetsCities with renewable energy policesCities with renewable energy targets and/or policies  Share of urban population with renewable energy targets and/or policy (%)
Country (#)(% of global total) (#)(% of global total) (#)(% of global total) (#)(% of global total)
United States of America33740.4%11214.1%35744.7%47936.17%28%
Italy597.1%475.9%9712.1%15011.30%47%
Germany617.3%131.6%9011.3%14010.55%40%
United Kingdom9411.3%455.7%243%1067.99%73%
Spain151.8%172.1%627.8%725.43%34%
South Africa70.8%50.6%313.9%342.56%40%
China60.7%81%212.6%251.88%38%
Sweden242.9%243%81%251.88%46%
Netherlands, The81%81%202.5%221.66%43%
Canada151.8%253.1%20.3%161.21%36%
Japan101.2%10312.9%30.4%110.8%40%
Republic of Korea50.6%20.3%10.1%50.4%55%
GLOBAL TOTAL834 796 799 1327 25%

[ii] See data on fossil fuel bans below.

[iii] More than 10,500 cities globally had adopted CO2 emission reduction targets, and around 800 cities have committed to net-zero emissions in 2020 – up sharply from the 100 cities with such commitments in 2019.

[iv] See data on fossil fuel bans below.

[v] See endnote (i) above.

[vi] Local governments in Japan have been instrumental in pushing the national governments to commit to carbon neutrality and/or adopt net-zero targets. As part of the Korean Local Governments’ Action Alliance for Carbon-Neutrality, 226 local governments that had already declared a climate emergency by September 2020, pushed the national government to commit to carbon neutrality by 2050.

[vii] Data has been collected on hundreds of cities, ranging from mega-cities to small and medium size cities and towns. The report features specific case studies on: Adelaide (Australia); Palmas (Brazil); Recife (Brazil); Yaoundé IV (Cameroon); Cocody (Côte d’Ivoire); Rajkot (India); North Lombok Regency (Indonesia); Jakarta (Indonesia); Seoul (Republic of Korea); Dakar (Senegal); Cape Town (South Africa); Malmö (Sweden); Tsévié (Togo); Kampala (Uganda); Oxford (UK); Orlando, FL (USA).

Additional case studies that will be provided as supplements are: Vancouver (Canada) and Heidelberg (Germany).

Data about city-level fossil fuel bans

Summary: There are 66 cities worldwide with a proposed and/or passed fossil fuel bans for heating and cooling and/or transport. In total these 66 cities have 67 bans as 1 city has both a ban for buildings and one for transport. (Note: not all of them have been enforced yet). Regarding enforcement: 4 went into force before 2019, 4 went into force into 2019, and 35 went into force in 2020; for a total of 43 enforced in 2020. 20 will go into force in the future. Plus 4 for which there is no known enforcement date. Date of enactment: 11 were voted before 2019, 37 were voted in 2019, and 13 were voted in 2020. Plus 6 for which we have no date; for a total of 67.

Raw data:

CountryCityBanned technology/fuelBans and restrictions in buildingsVehicle bans and restrictionsPolicy statusYear of enactmentYear of entry into force
AustraliaSydneyCoalX Proposed20182035
AustraliaAustralian Capital Territory (Canberra)N/AX Passed20202025-2045
AustriaViennaOil and gas heatingX Passed20202020
CanadaMontrealOil furnacesX Passed20162017-2021
CanadaVancouverNatural gasX Passed20162030
ChinaHandanCoalX Passed20172017
ChinaTaiyuanCoalX Passed20172017
ChinaXingtaiCoalX Passed20172017
FranceParisoilX Passed20202022
GermanyHamburgOilX Proposed20202021
Netherlands, TheAmsterdamNatural gasX Passed20202020-2040
PolandKrakowCoal boiler, fuelwood in boilers, stoves and fireplacesX Passed20132019
SwedenStockholmCoalX Passed20192022
United KingdomLondonNatural gas banX Passed20192019
United StatesAlameda, CANatural gasX Passed20192020
United StatesAlbany, CANatural gas banX Passed20162020
United StatesBerkeley, CANatural gasX Passed20192020
United StatesBrisbane, CANatural gasX Passed20192020
United StatesBrookline, MAOil and gasX Passed20192021
United StatesBurlingame, CANatural gasX Passed20192020
United StatesCambridge, MANatural gasX Proposed2019N/A
United StatesCampbell, CANatural gasX Proposed2020N/A
United StatesCarlsbad, CANatural gasX Passed20192020
United StatesCupertino, CANatural gasX Passed20192020
United StatesDavis, CANatural gasX Passed20192020
United StatesHayward, CANatural gasX Passed20192020
United StatesHealdburg, CANatural gasX Passed20192020
United StatesLos Altos Hills, CANatural gasX Passed20192020
United StatesLos Gatos, CAStorage; natural gasX Passed20192020
United StatesMenlo Park, CANatural gasX Passed20192020
United StatesMill Valley, CANatural gasX Passed20192020
United StatesMillbrae, CANatural gasX Passed20192019
United StatesMilpitas, CANatural gasX Passed20192020
United StatesMorgan Hilll, CANatural gasX Passed20192020
United StatesMountain View, CANatural gasX Passed20192020
United StatesNewton, MANatural gasX Proposed2019N/A
United StatesOakland, CANatural gasX Passed20192020
United StatesOjai, CANatural gasX Proposed20202020
United StatesPacifica, CANatural gasX Passed20192020
United StatesPalo Alto, CANatural gasX Passed20192020
United StatesPiedmont, PANatural gasX Passed20192020
United StatesRedwood City, CANatural gasX Passed20202020
United StatesRichmond, CANatural gasX Passed20192020
United StatesSan Francisco, CANatural gasX Passed20202020
United StatesSan Jose, CANatural gasX Passed20192020
United StatesSan Mateo, CANatural gasX Passed20192020
United StatesSanta Cruz, CANatural gasX Passed20192020
United StatesSanta Monica, CANatural gasX Passed20192020
United StatesSanta Rosa, CANatural gasX Passed20192020
United StatesSaratoga, CANatural gasX Proposed2019N/A
United StatesSeattle, WANatural gasX Proposed20202021
United StatesSunnyvale, CASolar; natural gas banX Proposed20192020
United StatesWindsor, CANatural gasX Passed20192020
ChinaShanghaiDiesel trucks XPassedN/A2022
ChinaXi’anICE Vehicles XPassed20182019
FranceStrasbourgICE Vehicles XProposed20202025
GermanyStuttgartDiesel vehicles XPassedN/A2020
GreeceAthensDiesel Vehicles XProposed20162018
IndiaDelhiDiesel Vehicles XPassed20152020
ItalyRomeICE Vehicles XProposedN/A2024-2030
Korea, Rep.SeoulDiesel and gasoline vehicles XProposed20202035
Netherlands, TheAmersfoortICE Vehicles XPassedN/A2021
Netherlands, TheGroningenICE Vehicles XPassedN/A2022
SpainBarcelonaICE Vehicles XPassedN/A2020 – 2021
United KingdomBristolDiesel Vehicles XPassed20192021
United KingdomYorkICE Vehicles XPassed20202023
United StatesSan Francisco, CAICE Vehicles XProposed20192030
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Municipal Energy Resilience Project launched for a more energy secure future

24 November 2020

We are pleased to announce the official launch of the three-year Municipal Energy Resilience (MER) Project to assist municipalities to take advantage of the new energy regulations, which may include purchasing of energy directly from Independent Power Producers (IPPs), so that we can create a more energy secure future in the Western Cape.  

The MER Project will help municipalities across the Western Cape 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 MER Project is spearheaded by our Green Economy unit at the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, who are working in collaboration with the Department of Local Government and Provincial Treasury to enable the development of energy projects and engage with municipalities on multiple fronts.

The procurement of energy at utility and municipal distribution scale, such as bulk energy purchases from IPPs, under conditions of developing and evolving policies and regulations is a complex and challenging task. Municipalities may not have the policies, plans, resources, funding, or procurement expertise to procure wholesale electricity from sources other than Eskom, specifically IPPs. Neither have all municipalities’ electricity distribution systems been technically evaluated to clarify their readiness to support new electricity generation and energy trading.  

And so, the MER Project is structured in the following three phases: 

  • Phase 1 involves the identification of potential candidate municipalities and pioneering projects and the development of a roadmap for rolling these out. The work will explore multiple pioneering renewable energy technologies and scales, cost options, scale of investment required, location issues, risks, municipal readiness needs, infrastructure needs, timelines to get capacity onto the grid, transaction and procurement mechanisms and regulatory issues.   
  • Phase 2 will focus on starting the implementation of the pioneering energy projects in the identified candidate municipalities along with working with municipalities to help fill gaps to enable future energy project implementation.  
  • Phase 3 will see the development of a master plan for energy projects to be rolled out in municipalities along with the commencement of energy projects in further municipalities as budget allows.

While we recognise that only a few municipalities are likely to be able to procure utility scale energy from IPPs in the near term, there are other energy generation and storage opportunities that may serve to improve municipal energy resilience and future economic growth in the Western Cape.   

To support the MER Project, two bids have been advertised in the Government Tender Bulletin on 20 November 2020 and all applicable parties are invited to apply:

Energy resilience-related work that is already being undertaken by our Green Economy unit and that will continue, includes support to municipalities to develop and revise SSEG feed-in tariff frameworks and feed-in tariffs, engagement with businesses to drive take-up of rooftop solar PV, support to municipalities to enable wheeling on their grid, support to energy sector businesses and the provision of energy technology and cost options to businesses and municipalities, and support to green economy investors in the Western Cape.  

Cumulative load shedding in 2020 was 23% worse than in 2019 despite a 9% decrease in real GDP. This is estimated to have cost the country’s economy R500 million per stage per day and the Western Cape’s economy R75 million per stage per day. Recent regulatory changes in the energy sector which we called for, have started to open the door for new renewable energy generation which will allow for an increasingly decentralised system of energy generation and distribution to mitigate the risk of load shedding in South Africa. 

And so, we will continue to do everything we can to support municipalities and businesses to participate in the growing green energy sector and to become more energy resilient so that together we can create a more energy resilient future in the Western Cape.  

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MEC David Maynier announces municipalities participating in the Municipal Energy Resilience Project

Here are the six-candidate municipalities participating in the Municipal Energy Resilience Project

17 Mar 2021

When I delivered my Budget 2021 Address in the Provincial Parliament yesterday (16 March 2021), I announced that we will spend R48.8 million over the medium-term and provide a further R20 million in the provincial reserves for the Municipal Energy Resilience (MER) Project in the Western Cape.

I was also pleased to announce that the six candidate municipalities participating in the first phase of the MER Project in this financial year are the:

Drakenstein Municipality 

Mossel Bay Municipality

Overstrand Municipality 

Saldanha Bay Municipality

Stellenbosch Municipality

Swartland Municipality

And, as they are a municipality that has already done excellent work on developing energy resilience, we are also pleased to be collaborating with the City of Cape Town on the MER Project.  

We know that load shedding costs the economy about R75 million per stage, per day in the Western Cape.  
 
When it comes to the economy Covid-19 is a “left hook”, and load shedding is a “right hook”, which together often results in a knock-out blow that risks compromising economic recovery.  
 
Which is why we launched the three-year MER Project last year to support municipalities to take advantage of the new energy regulations to generate, procure and sell their own power so that we can become more energy secure in the Western Cape.
 
The MER Project is spearheaded by our Green Economy unit at the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, who are working in collaboration with the Department of Local Government and Provincial Treasury to enable the development of energy projects and engage with municipalities on multiple fronts.
 
The procurement of energy at utility and municipal distribution scale, such as bulk energy purchases from Independent Power Producers (IPPs), under conditions of developing and evolving policies and regulations is a complex and challenging task. Municipalities may not have the policies, plans, resources, funding, or procurement expertise to procure wholesale electricity from sources other than Eskom, specifically IPPs.

Neither have all municipalities’ electricity distribution systems been technically evaluated to clarify their readiness to support new electricity generation and energy trading.   
 
To identify the candidate municipalities for the MER Project we conducted a readiness evaluation to determine which municipalities were most equipped and met the conditions required to take advantage of the energy regulations to develop their own power generation projects and also procure power from IPPs.
 
Now that the candidate municipalities have been announced, we will be confirming willingness and commitment through a Memorandum of Understanding, and then working closely with them in the first phase of MER Project to identify pioneering energy projects and develop a roadmap to roll out the projects.
 
This process will consider multiple pioneering renewable energy technologies and scales, cost options, scale of investment required, location issues, risks, municipal readiness needs, infrastructure needs, timelines to get capacity onto the grid, transaction and procurement mechanisms and regulatory issues.
 
Any learnings from projects implemented with the candidate municipalities will be applied to future projects in other municipalities. While this project should enable municipalities to be able to buffer residents and businesses from the impacts of load shedding, they will still continue to be connected to the national grid as we won’t be able to meet 100% of energy demand through renewable energy at this stage.

We will also work closely with national government to explore how the new energy regulations could lead to renewable energy generation projects within municipalities in the Western Cape.
 
Other projects that provide continued support to all municipalities in the Western Cape include support to develop and revise SSEG feed-in tariff frameworks and feed-in tariffs for solar PV, engagements with businesses to drive take-up of solar PV, support to municipalities to enable wheeling, support to energy sector businesses; the provision of energy technology and cost options to businesses and municipalities; and support to green economy investors in the Western Cape.

The MER Project is just another example of how we are working hard to become more energy resilient in the Western Cape.  

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Lanseria Smart City unlikely to make a big splash in SA’s urban landscape

In his State of the Nation Address on 13 February, President Cyril Ramaphosa revealed that the proposed Lanseria Smart City “is now a reality in the making”, with the draft masterplan completed in November 2020 out for public comment.

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