Western Cape Premier Alan Winde has vowed to help shift the provincial economy toward cleaner energy.
This, according to Winde, will not only slow down the progression of the climate crisis and lower the province’s dependency on fossil fuels, but will also help strengthen its power generation capabilities, while offering new opportunities for trade and export through green hydrogen.
Winde, during his State of the Province address (Sopa), on Thursday, said all hands were on deck to make use of green hydrogen (GH2) in the Western Cape.
Green hydrogen is when the energy used to power electrolysis comes from renewable sources like wind, water or solar.
“As the Western Cape government, we are working with our allies, the Northern Cape government, the Freeport Saldanha Industrial Development Zone and international partners, such as the Namibian government, to make optimal use of the potential of green hydrogen in our region.
“Our just energy transition, of which our GH2 drive is just one part, requires us to shift to reliable and clean green energy,” said Winde.
Just before the Inaugural Green Hydrogen Summit, which was held in Cape Town last year, Winde and his Northern Cape counterpart, Zamani Saul signed a landmark memorandum of understanding to develop a green hydrogen (GH2) hub and corridor.
“This memorandum of understanding represents an important step in our collective drive towards energy resilience and seeking out more economic opportunities,” he said.
Winde also said the Western Cape government was on a drive to increase energy resilience.
“Not only to mitigate the effects of load shedding and the resulting economic damage, but also to highlight the immense potential that the power generation sector, specifically the green economy, has in being able to stimulate growth, attract investment and create employment,” he said.
Winde said that since 2011, the sector has attracted nearly R18 billion in foreign direct investment.
“This is a burgeoning market, one which we are harnessing to its full potential,” he said.
Winde also called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to ensure that this new energy state of disaster follows some of the “simple steps that we took during the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said this was to ensure greater transparency and accountability, such as accountability to parliament.
“During the pandemic, this provincial legislature established a committee to oversee all Covid-19-related government expenditure and I welcome the Western Cape parliament establishing a similar oversight committee for the energy crisis.
“The Western Cape government team has shown that when we are confronted with situations of extreme stress and crisis, we innovate and deliver,” he said.
In an attempt to address the crippling power cuts, Winde said he requested the provincial Treasury to allocate just over R1 billion in the upcoming three-year budget period.
“This is proposed to respond to the short-term impact of load shedding now on government services, secure diesel fuel to keep essential public services running during load shedding (and) provide poorer households with emergency power packs that help reduce the impact of load shedding on daily tasks,” said Winde.
The ANC’s chief whip in the province, Pat Lekker said everything Winde announced was just “popcorn ideas”.
“The premier must stop popping in the air – he must come to the ground; he must come home,” said Lekker. “Because as soon as he pops up an idea and a programme, that’s how soon the idea and programme collapse again.
“In 2021, he announced the municipal energy resilience project and more than a thousand days later and after spending over a R100 million, the MEC for Finance stands up and lists municipalities in project planning stage! Two years later – not a single megawatt has been produced.
“He requests R1bn for energy over three years – listen carefully: three years – but yet the theme of his speech is ‘the fierce urgency of now’,” Lekker said.
During the Sopa debate on Friday, the GOOD Party’s Shaun August almost bemoaned the lack of tangible details in addressing the province’s challenges.
“Climate change is a real and indefinite threat to our province, country and region. We need to know from this administration how they plan on protecting lives, livelihoods and our agricultural muscle in the wake of our changing environment,” he said.
GreenAgri said it supports the Western Cape's goals when it comes to its Green Economy Strategic Framework.
The framework includes smart agri-production plans on sustainable farming practices, balancing farming and conservation needs, resource efficiency and waste minimisation.
President of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Jacques Moolman said they welcomed Winde’s commitment to private sector-led economic growth in the province.
“The persistent load shedding is unacceptable for business, and we are heartened by the R1bn budget allocation to reduce ongoing negative impacts.
“Efforts to secure alternative energy supply are also encouraging, although we urge the province to ensure total transparency on energy plans and budgetary allocation,” he said.