Premier assesses new energy resilience measures at Karl Bremer Hospital precinct
Media release: Premier assesses new energy resilience measures at Karl Bremer Hospital precinct; announces over R16 mil saving so far through WCG energy resilience interventions
While the Western Cape Government’s (WCG) urges residents to do their bit to save electricity so as to take as much strain off of the national power grid as possible, it too is taking measures to ensure its facilities are energy resilient.
Premier Alan Winde visited a R17 million solar PV installation project, completed in March 2023, at the Bellville Health Park (BHP) at Karl Bremer Hospital. The project started in October 2022 and has seen1400 solar panels installed above parking bays at the facility. Generating 663kWp, the ground-mounted solar system is linked to five separate inverter stations mounted in vandal and theft-resistant cages. The inverter stations connect to the solar panels and convert the DC (direct current) to AC (alternating current) in the building. From here, cables connect it to a miniature substation that provides power to the BHP, which is connected to the rest of the Karl Bremer hospital precinct electrical network.
Touring the facility, Premier Winde noted, “Just this one project can make a huge difference in ensuring the BHP is cushioned from loadshedding. Our services must be protected as far as possible from blackouts and through this initiative we are making sure this is the case.” Apart from the solar panels installed on the parking bays, the BHP’s entire roof is also fitted with solar photovoltaic panels, boosting its energy production. It was explained to the Premier that the solar project has the potential of saving the facility up to R5 million in electricity costs each year. An official who accompanied the Premier on the tour of the project remarked, “In the end we will not only benefit from producing our own power, but our employees and clients also get shaded parking.”
While the provincial government is actively and urgently working to make critical services energy resilient, it encourages the private sector to also play its part. “Together we will be able bolster our energy security drive,” said the Premier. He added, “We have made it a priority of our government to find ways to mitigate the impact of blackouts on our services. This has been demonstrated through our budgetary allocations across our departments as well as meaningful investments. The newly launched Western Cape Department of Infrastructure has been key in helping to boost energy efficiency at WCG-owned buildings and facilities. The department’s 2050 Western Cape Infrastructure Framework, a long-term plan to develop and maintain critical infrastructure projects, is an important component of this.
For the 2023/24 financial year, this department alone has allocated R61.9 million towards energy initiatives.
This budget is broken down as follows:
- R9.8 million for project support for independent power producers’ procurement in Stellenbosch;
- R1 million will go towards project preparation to support gas power exploration;
- R3 million has been set aside for grid transmission upgrades; and
- R24 million will be spent on installing 976 solar geysers across key housing projects with specific focus on indigent households.
In addition to this, the WCG Property Efficiency Report for 2021/2022 shows that:
- Across 17 provincial government buildings across the province a total of 2 222kWp was produced through solar photovoltaic (PV);
- A total of R16.67 million has been saved between the 2016/17 and 2021/22 financial years, which is redirected to service delivery;
- In 2016/17, only 3 government buildings had solar with a saving of R32 420. By 2021/22, 17 government building have installed solar with a saving of R4 595 610. This is nearly 9x times the number of buildings and an increase of 141 times the original savings; and
- A total of 3189 MWh have been produced in 2021/22. To put this in perspective, in Gauteng, in the 2013/2014 financial year, the Gauteng Infrastructure Financing Agency initiated a rooftop solar panel project but 10 years later not one single solar PV project has been implemented.
Persistent loadshedding impacting key services was also a challenge raised by grant beneficiaries who interacted with Premier Winde during an unannounced visit to South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) offices in Bellville. He encountered long queues, sadly a common sight at many SASSA offices. Clients he spoke to also complained of:
- Long waiting times (“It keeps getting worse,” said one elderly woman); and
- Not enough staff to assist them.
When blackouts strike, one SASSA official was honest with the Premier saying their work is severely affected. Employees then have to work manually, which leads to longer waiting times and backlogs. The Premier stressed, “The most vulnerable people in our province suffer the most due to these kinds of inadequate services offered by national government, which has not sought to make its facilities energy resilient. It is a fundamental right that poor people, dependent on social grants, have ready, professional access to resources meant for their most basic needs.”