Overstrand Municipality's Plan For Long-Term Energy Sustainability
As one of six Western Cape Municipalities to take part in the Provincial Government’s Municipal Energy Resilience Programme, Overstrand Municipality is working hard behind the scenes to make green energy work for all in the Overstrand.
Various technical and regulatory aspects need to be considered before “going green”. These include, but are not limited to, network capability, regulatory limitations, procurement procedures, base generation demand and capacity, possible peak shaving, load shedding and energy efficiency.
To ensure the Municipality can provide a reliable and sustainable service to its customers, three studies were completed in 2022. They are:
• The Cost of Supply study
• Grid Capacity Connection study
• Updating of the Electricity Master Plan
The outcomes of these studies will assist the Municipality in identifying where its networks are able to accommodate renewable energy connections, what capacity can be accommodated and how to best align these renewable resources to its policies and statutory requirements. These studies will also assist the Municipality in determining what percentage of renewable energy can be purchased from Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to ensure that Small-Scale Embedded Generation (SSEG) customers will have unfettered access to the municipal network without penalties.
Various affordable and sustainable combinations of renewable energy technology currently exist, and the Municipality still needs to compile mini IRPs (Integrated Resource Plans) to establish what percentage of their renewable energy will be allocated to Solar PV, Wind Power or Hydro generation.
Aside from the existing SSEG programme, procuring alternative energy will, most probably, be directly from registered IPPs. To date, the Municipality has had several meetings with interested IPP companies.
Renewable Energy Plant
With the goal of procuring renewable energy from Independent Power Producers by 2026, a request for proposals for the establishing of a renewable energy plant on municipal land in Kleinmond will be advertised soon.
A few years ago, a study was conducted to explore the possibility of hydropower generation in the gravity fed bulk water pipeline between the De Bos Dam and Hermanus. It was proven not to be a financially viable option at the time as they would not even be able to run the water treatment works at Preekstoel with it.
However, technology has improved since then and Overstrand Municipality is once again investigating the possibility of generating hydro power.
Two years ago, (in 2021), Council gave approval to make the Municipality’s electrical network available to compliant and approved energy producers and energy traders to wheel energy over the municipal network.
The method of ‘wheeling electricity’ on municipal grid is where private generators at one location can supply electricity to a buyer or off-taker in another location via the municipal network. Electricity wheeling could be introduced as soon as 2024.
In most cases wheeling will take place over a combination of municipal and Eskom networks which will mean that generators will need to comply with the regulations and policies of both authorities.
Overstrand Municipality is in the process of identifying municipal buildings (roof tops) that might be suitable for retrofitting in terms of roof area, orientation, trees and shading. This will be included in the mini-Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) that will be done by the end of February 2024. The IRP will assist with finding funding.
Two retrofit traffic lights in Hermanus (one at the Sandbaai intersection and the other at CTM) have been installed.
Overstrand Municipality is encouraging the installation of private small-scale embedded generation (SSEG) systems.
There are already ± 45 businesses and residents in the Overstrand that are registered to feed excess electricity into the municipal grid - generating roughly 1 MW of electricity through solar panels.
Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems can be installed on rooftops of all sizes. The electricity it generates is considered clean energy, and can be stored in batteries, used directly, or fed back into the electricity grid.
Residents must keep in mind that registration of all small-scale embedded generation (SSEG) installations is mandatory, even if you are not feeding into the grid.
This is not to ‘tax’ people but to ensure that the power quality is not compromised and that the municipal personnel are not exposed to unnecessary danger whilst conducting repairs and maintenance on the network.
Many systems that claim to be off-grid are not electrically separated from the home’s wiring and are thus not technically off-grid. To qualify as an off-grid system, a solar PV system must be completely separated from the property’s wiring.
Another challenge for the Municipality is that many of the big suppliers would like to buy in at a minimum of 100kW. Overstrand uses an amount of 55kW electricity which includes the portion the Municipality buys, as well as the portion which residents buy directly from Eskom.
Connecting without approval is illegal
Unauthorised PV systems could interfere with Overstrand’s electricity supply, electricity demand management and future network planning.
• Connecting an unauthorised SSEG system to the grid can pose a safety risk to electricity maintenance staff and can also be a fire risk to your household if installed incorrectly.
• Insurance claims may be jeopardised if unauthorised systems are operated.
Customers wishing to install an SSEG system, regardless of its generation capacity, need to complete an application form and request written approval from the Municipality prior to the commencement of system procurement and installation. The approval process for an SSEG installation will vary, depending on the size of the system and consumer category.
The complete guidelines, forms and by-laws are available on the Overstrand website.