Cape Town breaks solar power records amidst electricity crisis

Cape Town, South Africa, is facing a severe electricity shortage, leading to frequent power cuts and rising costs for businesses. As a result, the city has seen a surge in applications for solar power installations. With over 2,300 requests received in the first four months of this year, including a record-breaking 700 in March alone, the City of Cape Town has announced a program to buy excess rooftop solar power from homes and businesses. The initiative aims to incentivise the adoption of solar energy and alleviate the strain on the struggling state-owned utility, Eskom Holdings. Additionally, Cape Town has been working on procuring its own power to take over the city’s supply, separate from Eskom. Since 2020, the city has received nearly 11,000 applications for small-scale embedded generation, predominantly from residential users, although most of the installed capacity caters to commercial sites.

Cape Town’s Demand for Home Solar Panels Surges on Power Outages

By Paul Burkhardt

Cape Town has set a record for the number of applications received to install solar power as South Africa’s electricity shortage worsens.

More than 2,300 of these requests have been made this year as of end-April, with the figure of almost 700 in March the highest to date, according to a City of Cape Town statement on Monday. As an incentive, the city is offering to buy excess rooftop solar power from businesses and homes in a program that will start during the year.

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South Africa is experiencing an unprecedented level of power cuts, with rolling blackouts occurring daily due to frequent equipment breakdowns at state-owned Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., driving up costs for businesses forced to generate their own electricity. The struggling utility is unable to meet demand and various solutions proposed by the government to end the crisis have failed to take hold.

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Cape Town, which is governed by the opposition Democratic Alliance and includes some of South Africa’s most affluent suburbs, has a program to procure its own power and take over supply to the city from Eskom, according to Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis. 

Cape Town has received almost 11,000 applications for small-scale embedded generation since it started keeping records of this in 2020. The majority of requests have been residential, while most of the installed capacity is for commercial sites, according to the data.

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