Orania aims for ‘energy independence’
Orania, the whites only town in Northern Cape, plans to take its independence to the next level by generating its own electricity 24/7.
The town’s 900kw solar plant already supplies electricity to residents during the day.
Orania Development Company chief executive Frans de Klerk said the plant is owned by the town’s council, which sells electricity to residents at the same price as Eskom.
The capital generated from the tariff would be used to purchase storage space to allow Orania to be independent of Eskom.
“That should be the goal of every community in SA,” De Klerk said.
Riaan Jacobs, who is involved in the planning, design and project management of the first phase, told TimesLIVE the energy is distributed through the local grid to households, businesses and other services.
“We are in process of planning the storage and expansion of generating. As the development and ownership of the plant is community based, the residents’ first benefit is ownership. At first the profit from the first phase is for financing the next phases of the renewable energy project and not necessarily money back in the pocket. Our focus is first on an independent, reliable supply of electricity and then on savings,” he said.
Cumulatively, the amount of electricity the first phase produces is enough for about 200 households.
Jacobs said for other towns to follow in Orania’s footsteps there needed to be strong political will from leadership and “the steadying of a town’s finances as the costs of such projects are quite high”.
“There are also many third party and private investors who would fund and erect solar plants and other generating and storage options, but this must be considered carefully so the town does not become another price-taker.”
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