Gauteng, South Africa, Reveals Strategy for 800MW Solar Farm to Address Energy Deficits

In a landmark initiative, the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) is poised to establish an 800MW solar farm park, marking a significant stride towards tackling power shortages and bolstering energy stability. Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi unveiled this ambitious endeavor during the State of the Province Address in Johannesburg, underlining its potential to revolutionize the province’s energy landscape.

The comprehensive strategy, endorsed in partnership with the Sibanye-Stillwater Board, entails leasing land to six independent power producers. These entities will spearhead the development of a photovoltaic power station, forming a solar farm hub within the Merafong Local Municipality. The initiative targets the generation of 800 megawatts of solar energy, promising a substantial reinforcement to the electricity grid.

Furthermore, Gauteng is poised to fortify its energy grid by incorporating a minimum of 100MW starting from April. This initiative, led by the GPG and executed by City Power through Open Cycle Gas Turbine technology facilities, is slated to commence operations on April 1, 2024. Plans for scaling up to 300 megawatts in the ensuing financial year are underway, complemented by the deployment of smart meters to shield residents against two phases of load shedding, marking a pivotal stride towards ensuring energy resilience.

In a bid to address immediate concerns, the province has initiated measures to safeguard 21 healthcare facilities from the impacts of load shedding by installing Solar Photovoltaic (PV) and battery storage systems. Additionally, a microgrid pilot initiative in Alexandra township is poised to furnish a self-sustaining solution for essential power needs in low-income households within townships and informal settlements, with expansion plans encompassing 13 other communities.

Premier Panyaza Lesufi reiterated the province’s dedication to tackling challenges confronted by communities, intervening in instances of prolonged blackout attributed to illegal connections, cable theft, vandalism, and persistent non-payment. Through collaborative efforts with Eskom and City Power, the provincial administration has distributed 429 transformers to communities, benefitting over 32,000 township households.

Despite energy management not falling within the province’s jurisdiction, Lesufi underscored the debilitating impact of load shedding on the state’s functionality and broader societal welfare, prompting concerted interventions to alleviate its ramifications on residents and the economy.

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