Municipal Energy Resilience (MER) Initiative
The Municipal Energy Resilience (MER) initiative is a 3-year programme running to July 2023. The MER initiative is spearheaded by the Department of Economic Development and Tourism’s (DEDAT) Energy Directorate within the Green Economy Chief Directorate and supported by the combined efforts of the Department of Local Government (DLG) and Provincial Treasury (PT).
The key objectives of the MER initiative are the development, support and capacity building to implement renewable energy projects in municipalities across the province for municipalities, businesses and households to generate, procure and sell own power including, but not limited to, municipalities transacting directly with IPPs (Independent Power Producers), all aimed at increasing energy and economic resilience.
While this initiative should enable municipalities to be able to buffer residents and businesses from the impacts of load shedding, they will still continue to be connected to the national transmission system (grid) as the municipal distribution systems will not always have the required capacity or be located in the required areas. Additionally, the renewable energy generated or procured by these municipalities won’t be able to meet 100 % of energy demand through renewable energy at this stage.
Improving the energy resilience of the Western Cape is core to the post-Covid19 economic recovery plan to maintain business competitiveness, confidence, investment, growth, job preservation and job creation and to maintain and grow export opportunities.
The low carbon component of renewable energy is critical – both to contribute to the country’s Paris Agreement greenhouse gas emissions reduction commitments and to protect Western Cape exports from imminent carbon border adjustments - particularly in the light of post Covid-19 economic recovery plans being implemented by many countries that reflect an accelerated transition to lower carbon economies.
In order to achieve this, the MER project seeks to provide project development support and capacity building to municipalities while working closely with national government to explore how the new energy regulations could lead to renewable energy generation projects within municipalities in the Western Cape.
The high-level approach can be seen below:
A Municipal Readiness Evaluation Tool (MRET) was used to enable the successful implementation of renewable energy projects at scale in the short to medium term (in candidate municipalities), and to identify municipal grid capacity, technical capacity, financial standing and other gaps and development needs to be addressed for further renewable energy project preparation, development and implementation.
The candidate municipalities identified as part of the MER initiative are:
- Mossel Bay
- Saldanha Bay
The initiative will also collaborate closely with the City of Cape Town.
The MER initiative includes consideration of multiple technologies, renewable energy mixes and financing and contracting mechanisms (amongst others) and presents complex sets of inter-related and inter-dependent projects that are expected to be delivered by incorporating innovative methodologies and delivery mechanisms.