Cape Town - An application to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) for a licence to generate solar electricity at Old Mutual Park, which could take the site in Pinelands off the electricity grid, has caught both the Province and the City unawares.
A company called 35 Degrees Limited put out a notice notifying residents of Pinelands, Thornton and Maitland of its intention to set up a solar power generation facility at Old Mutual Park.
According to the notice: “All interested parties and/or any member of the public may lodge written objections with Nersa, within 14 days from the date of this publication. Such objections must be in a form of an affidavit and must be directed to Nersa.
“The licence application is available for inspection at Pinelands Public Library and interested parties have been asked to contact Wilhelm Cronje on telephone number 021 530 7160,” said the notice.
The plan is for Old Mutual Park on Jan Smuts Drive in Pinelands to leave the electricity grid and generate its own power via a 4.9 MW Solar photovoltaic (PV) generation plant. This move comes three years after Old Mutual went off the water grid with its its own water filtration plant in 2018.
Asked whether the City was aware of the application, Mayco member for energy and climate change Phindile Maxiti said: “No, as far as we know at this stage, this seems to be a plant for own generation and use by a private firm and does not directly pertain to the City of Cape Town.
“In general, the City welcomes all investment, big or small, into renewable energy as every bit helps to change our course to more affordable, cleaner, equitable and secure energy of supply and diversification of our energy mix away from the sole reliance on Eskom,” said Maxiti.
Finance and Economic Opportunities MEC David Maynier said: “We are aware of the investment in solar PV that Old Mutual has already made on their Old Mutual site. However, we were not aware of the application. However, we support it.”
Maynier said: “In our aim to become more energy-resilient in the Western Cape, we have been supporting businesses investing in solar PV since 2015.
“Enabling businesses to build their own energy resilience through the use of solar PV allows for greater cost efficiencies for the business and also contributes to growth of the green economy in the province,” he said.
The move by Old Mutual comes as the Stellenbosch Municipality announced it had launched a joint scientific investigation into alternate energy sources with Stellenbosch University and the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in a bid to eliminate load shedding.
Municipality spokesperson Stuart Grobbelaar said: “This puts Stellenbosch in the lead to potentially become the first municipality in the country to eliminate load shedding.”
Kigeni Energy director Gavin Goldblatt said: “Both Kigeni and Old Mutual are excited to be helping the City of Cape Town and the South African economy to resolve the ongoing power supply problems and price hikes through building the largest rooftop solar power generation plant in the Western Cape.”
“President Ramaphosa has specifically requested private involvement of this nature and promised expedited license approvals and we are confident that, as we have met all application requirements, Nersa will swiftly provide us with our license and the City will assist us with connecting to the grid,” said Goldblatt.