Home » Inaugural Tshwane Energy Summit 2024 critical to fast-tracking the city’s energy independence

Inaugural Tshwane Energy Summit 2024 critical to fast-tracking the city’s energy independence

by maurisha

: Innovation, sustainability and public-private partnerships were high on the agenda at the inaugural Tshwane Energy Summit, which took place from 19 – 20 June, with the focus to address critical issues within the energy sector, by looking at sustainable development, energy efficiency and the future of energy policy in the region.

“This [summit] is the platform to align these relationships and partnerships, ensuring the private sector understands what the city’s goals are and what the future, the economic and energy landscape for Tshwane looks like,” reiterated Dr Lardo Stander, CEO of the Tshwane Economic Development Agency, during his keynote address to delegates. 

“If we get this right, this will make us the economic hub of the continent and it’s with this priority and focus that we have pulled in our stakeholders, both in government and the private sector, to let them know our plan to ensure energy security,” Stander went on to explain.  

Councillor Cilliers Brink, Executive Mayor, City of Tshwane reminded delegates that poverty can only be eliminated with rapid economic growth and that it needs electricity and power. 

“It’s all about considering diversified sources of electricity and creating the infrastructure to enable that,” Brink continued.  “It’s critical to fast-tracking the city’s energy independence and protecting residents in the future when loadshedding inevitably returns. The energy crisis also unlocks opportunities to do things more efficiently and to get cleaner energy because South Africa is part of a global community and we have to move towards decarbonisation.”

This landmark event, organised by the Tshwane Economic Development Agency in collaboration with the City of Tshwane, brought together 472 delegates, and 25 exhibitors and sponsors, including key decision makers, executives, senior managers, and business owners from both the public and private sectors, as well as academia and research institutions, to develop strategies for addressing South Africa’s energy crisis. Over the course of the two-day summit, leaders discussed Tshwane’s energy challenges and explored technologies aimed at fostering economic growth and sustainability.

As a member of C40 Cities, the City of Tshwane under Brink’s leadership committed to a net zero carbon in buildings by 2050. Over and above that, the city is working hard to increase renewable energy deployment for sustainable economic growth while also improving energy security for its residents.

Councillor Geordin Hill-Lewis, Executive Mayor of the City of Cape Town added, “This crisis offers a rare opportunity to reimagine our energy future and to question the things that local governments have been doing in the past and whether we can do more and better in the future.”

Setting the scene for the state of energy at the Tshwane Energy Summit, Vuyo Zitumane, COO at City of Tshwane saw this as “a perfect opportunity for the city to accelerate its efforts in introducing additional generation capacity and technologies that will address the energy challenges.”

According to a Council of Scientific and Industrial Research study in 2023, the emergence of solar PV, wind, battery storage, biomass, and demand response technologies as alternatives to large centralised power stations presents new opportunities for consumers to own energy.

Zitumane shared with delegates how the City of Tshwane aims to produce 1000 MW of energy from alternative sources over the next three years. Of the 1000 MW, 300 is expected to come from the Rooiwal power station, 180 from Pretoria West and the remaining 520 from alternative sources.

Zitumane went on to explain the progress made so far: The establishment of the energy task team challenged to drive innovation in the energy transition initiatives, the leasing of Rooiwal and Pretoria West power stations to get these assets recommissioned to secure additional baseload electricity, getting the policy and regulatory framework approved (with these policies shared for discussion on day 2 of the summit) and cementing the partnership with the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research to model different demand scenarios to guide the city to better plan for additional energy expected from the two power stations and IPPs.

“The Rooiwal power station is in good condition, and it’s economically feasible to get the station online again producing power using coal as a feedstock. The Pretoria West power station would most likely have to be converted to either a gas-to-power plant or a waste-to-energy plant,” confirmed Dr Stander, from the Tshwane Economic Development Agency.

Despite policy developments on electrification, South Africa still faces significant challenges around energy poverty.  The City of Tshwane is committed to ensure that energy plans and project designs include the poor and marginalised communities.   

Sello Mphaga, Tshwane’s divisional head of the municipal sustainability unit and chair of the energy task team, led one of the fireside chat sessions sharing the City of Tshwane’s climate action plan and joined Joanne Yawitch as they deliberated on initiatives from international institutions, national government initiatives and the private sector aimed at building sustainable cities, accelerating urban development and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“By 2050 we envisage that up to 80% of our energy needs to be from renewables, so we are saying that the exercise we envisage to be rolling out in the coming months should be putting us among cities that are very progressive,” Mphaga concluded.

One of the summit highlights was a spotlight on the enhanced Bronkhorstspruit Biogas Project plant that’ll convert approximately 240,000 tons of organic waste per annum to renewable baseload power for offtake by BMW South Africa’s Rosslyn plant in Tshwane. The Bronkhorstspruit Biogas Project plant will mitigate up to 48,000 tons of CO2 per annum by diverting the organic waste from landfills. 

Transforming organic waste into energy is a cutting-edge climate solution that reduces pollution, alleviates power deficits, improves public health, and drives economic growth.

Kewiah Jooste, Director, Sustainability and Compliance, Bio2Watt Energy Holdings, shared that South Africa currently sees approximately 3.67 million tons of waste annually not being collected and treated through formal waste collection systems, which results in illegal dumping, creating liquids and methane gas in the breakdown process.

“We source organic waste streams from local areas and produce biogas for green energy production and a Category 2 registered organic fertiliser via anaerobic digestion,” explained Jooste.  “Our Biogas plants provide an effective solution to both the landfill problem and the economy at large.”

Bio2Watt Energy Holdings is a developer of organic waste-to-value projects with a pipeline of projects to generate over 330 gigawatt hours (GWh) of renewable energy for the corporate and industrial markets in South Africa and across the continent.

Also of interest was the international case study on The Netherlands, unpacking how similar technology and innovation could be applied to help move Tshwane off-grid and utilise refurbished power stations to alleviate power challenges.  It explored the possibility of implementing “hydrogen innovations”, like iron fuel innovation, where iron powder is the fuel source as opposed to hydrocarbons. 

Theo Cilliers, CEO of Renewable Energy Storage and Hydrogen Solutions, shared with delegates how iron powder could be combusted, converted from iron powder to iron oxide, and then regenerated back to iron, using green hydrogen.  The advantage of using iron fuel being that it can be re-generated (reused) indefinitely and after each cycle the cost of the iron powder is reduced.

Renewable Energy Storage and Hydrogen Solutions is a highly innovative Dutch renewable energy company specialising in designing, modelling, evaluating, developing, and implementing renewable energy solutions across the globe.

Cilliers explained that we [South Africa] have all the components required to create the iron fuel eco-system – Rooiwal power station can be converted to iron powder that has zero carbon and NOX emissions and our existing steel mines (Sishen Iron/ Kumba ore mine) can produce iron powder as an additional product, which will also improve capacity utilisation and employment security.

In the short to medium term, Pometon SPA, an iron powder distributor, could supply the iron powder and additional plant & equipment will be required to regenerate the iron oxide back to iron, with green hydrogen used to regenerate the fuel.

He believes a viable solution on the table is iron powder, a fossil fuel-like combustion alternative that is cost-competitive, renewable, enables the storage and transportation of renewable energy and has a zero carbon footprint.

Speaking at their breakaway session, Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone CEO Dr Bheka Zulu shared insights into the new energy vehicle (NEV) landscape globally and locally, commenting that the automotive manufacturing industry is currently experiencing a seismic shift driven by the electrifying rise of NEVs and that  South Africa is positioned to have the best of both worlds – both internal combustion engine vehicles and NEVs.

“We all know that the NEV space has been growing. In the last year, if you compare figures from the first quarter of last year, it grew by 8.7% – units that have grown from 1 665 to 2 220,” noted Zulu.

Although South Africa currently produces 0.5% of the global production of cars, it aims to produce 1% of the world’s cars by 2035, as part of its South African Automotive Master Plan.  However the export markets that South Africa has are now looking to cleaner energy vehicles such as hybrids and EVs. So, the current production of vehicles with internal combustion engines will not be fit for purpose and South Africa will need to adjust its products accordingly.

That said, one of the biggest markets that we need to factor in is the 1.4 billion market in Africa – and that market is not about to migrate or evolve into these NEVs,” added NAAMSA | The Automotive Business Council’s chief policy officer, Tshetle Litheko. In the African market the production of cars is around two million, with South Africa producing a third of that.

CEO of the Automotive Industry Development Centre, Andile Africa, in summary, noted the importance of protecting and building an industry that has been in South Africa for 100 years, while working on creating a clean energy environment.

Various topics were explored during the two day summit, including discussions on aligning national government, the Gauteng provincial government and the City of Tshwane’s energy action and response plans, embedded generation trends off-grid opportunities, revenue impact on local government as well as focusing on the City’s climate action plan public-private collaboration to accelerate sustainable urban development.

“As a city, we’re open to investment in the energy space and committed to building an energy secure capital city, “ Councillor Themba Fosi, member of the Mayoral Committee – Utilities and Regional Operations and Coordination, City of Tshwane concluded.

The summit was a measurable success due to the robust discussions that took place around the energy challenges Tshwane faces, and the exploration of innovative solutions as options to ensure an energy-secure future.

For more information about the summit, please visit TEDA’s website: https://teda.org.za/tes2024/

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