BY: Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in Government Editor.

The Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) plans to build a solar farm in Merafong in the West Rand.

The 800MW solar farm will be the result of R1.2 billion the GPG plans to release to deal with the energy crisis, premier Panyaza Lesufi revealed yesterday during his first State of the Province Address.

Gauteng’s plans come as the energy crisis continues to strangle the South African public and economy.

Power utility Eskom ramped up load-shedding to stage six at the weekend, saying citizens will have to contend with the higher stage of power cuts until Wednesday.

In his speech, Lesufi was candid about the energy crisis, saying it remains one of the biggest challenges to ensuring the province remains the economic hub of the country.

He welcomed the declaration of the National State of Disaster by president Cyril Ramaphosa during his State of the Nation Address.

“As Gauteng, we have been working on finding solutions to the energy crisis. We have established an energy crisis response team that engages with the national energy committee and works with local government and energy experts.”

Lesufi noted the recently-held inaugural energy solutions expo aimed to solicit views on what exists in the market, with the idea of creating partnerships to assist in finding lasting solutions.

During the event, industry experts provided much-needed knowledge on what the GPG can do in the immediate, medium and long term, he added.

“To set the ball rolling, as the Gauteng Provincial Government, we are releasing R1.2 billion towards resolving the energy crisis in Gauteng.

“In a few weeks, we will appoint six developers who will commence the construction of an 800MW solar farm in Merafong.

“This will be followed by the installation of roof-top solar panels in government buildings, especially hospitals, clinics and schools.”

Lesufi indicated the provincial government will engage with the City of Johannesburg and City of Tshwane to utilise the City Power and Rooiwal facilities, respectively, with an intention of supporting them to expand and generate more power through the resources made available.

“We will also meet with owners of Kelvin Power Station to establish how we can partner with them to limit load-shedding in Gauteng.

“From next week, we will advertise a call for proposals for alternative suppliers of energy that can contribute to a solution to the energy crisis and the re-industrialisation of Gauteng.

“We have learnt from the procurement of PPEs. We will work with the Gauteng Ethics Advisory Committee and auditor-general to ensure the processes are transparent, fair and equitable.”


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