The white-only town in the Northern Cape, Orania, is planning to generate its own electricity 24/7. The town already has a 900kw solar plant. This plant supplies electricity to residents during the day.
Orania’s solar plant is owned by the town’s council
Frans de Klerk, Orania’s Development Company Chief Executive, revealed that the solar plant is owned by the town’s council. De Klerk explained that the plant sells electricity to Orania residents at the same price as Eskom does.
The money gained from the tariff is used to purchase storage space. This storage space allows Orania to be independent of Eskom. De Klerk believes that their methods for electricity should be a goal for other communities.
“That should be the goal of every community in SA,”said De Klerk.
Speaking to TimesLIVE, Riaan Jacobs said the energy is spread through the local grid for services, businesses and households. Jacobs is part of the planning, design and project management of the first phase.
“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,”said Jacobs.
Jacobs provides tips for other town’s planning to do the same
The amount of electricity produced in the first phase produces enough for approximately 200 households in Orania. Speaking about how other towns can follow in the town’s footsteps, Jacobs said a strong political will from leadership is needed.
He added that the town’s finances would need to be steadied as projects such as this are quite expensive. Jacobs went on to explain that the option of third party and private investors must be considered carefully to avoid becoming ‘another price-taker’.