February 23, 2024

Riversdale to Become First Load-Shedding-Free Town in Western Cape


The Western Cape Government and the Hessequa Municipality are collaborating to make Riversdale a load-shedding-free zone.

Premier Alan Winde highlighted the economic impact of load shedding in his State of the Province Address, noting that the Western Cape has suffered a significant GDP loss attributed to power outages, with estimates ranging from R49 billion to R61 billion since the onset of load shedding. In 2022 alone, the estimated GDP loss was R8.2 billion, with stage 4 load shedding costing around R43 million per day.

To counteract this, the province plans to invest nearly R7 billion over the next three years to enhance energy resilience. This investment includes contributions from the province, the City of Cape Town, and other municipalities, totalling over R1 billion, R3.9 billion, and R1.9 billion, respectively. These funds aim to support the private sector and households in meeting their energy needs.

A pivotal project in this endeavour is the R210 million solar PV initiative in Hessequa Municipality, specifically targeting Riversdale to exempt it from load shedding. This project positions Riversdale as a pioneering load-shedding-free town in the province, benefiting its 22,000 residents and setting a precedent for energy independence.

The push for energy resilience extends beyond Riversdale, with twenty-five other municipalities experiencing a surge in embedded generation installations. Winde also referenced additional renewable energy projects, including three 75MW solar farms near Touws River, a substantial solar venture by Atlantis Foundries and Energy Partners, and a solar initiative by Prescient Investment Management and H1 Holdings projected to power up to 100,000 homes.

This movement towards self-sufficiency in energy generation is not confined to the Western Cape; other regions and cities across South Africa are investing in alternative energy sources to mitigate the effects of Eskom’s load shedding. The small Free State town of Clarens, for example, has become the country’s first “smart town,” employing technology to manage energy consumption and load curtailment collectively. Despite regulatory challenges faced by towns like Frankfort in their pursuit of energy autonomy, the trend towards localized energy solutions continues to gain momentum.