Private power: eThekwini reveals plan to assist farmers

eThekwini Municipality has invited proposals for private power generation amid great challenges at Eskom. The municipality tells Food For Mzansi that this could be a game-changer for livestock and crop farmers

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If the eThekwini Municipality acquires private power it could provide livestock and crop farmers with an alternative power source when Eskom experiences load-shedding.

This is the promise of Dumisani Nhlengethwa, a business development facilitator at the Durban-based municipality.

Dumisani Nhlengethwa, a business development facilitator at the eThekwini Municipality. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi
Dumisani Nhlengethwa, a business development facilitator at the eThekwini Municipality. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

He spoke to Food For Mzansi following the municipality’s call for proposals for private power generation of 400 megawatts. This, in a bid to build resilience amid challenges at Eskom.

“The aim is to immediately mitigate the impact of load shedding to the local economy, create sustainable jobs across the entire energy value chain and lower the prices of electricity,” says eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda.

According to a media release, the municipality is seeking a “diverse mix of sustainable, dispatchable and reliable power generation technologies”. While it isn’t stipulating which technologies are proposed, it does want the power to be available on demand. 

Which farmers are set to benefit?

Nhlengethwa believes that livestock farmers – especially those with intensive poultry and piggery operations – use “quite a lot of electricity” for their automated feeder systems.

He therefore believes the municipality’s bid could be greatly beneficial to them as well as crop farmers who require electricity for irrigation.

By farming off the grid, you are less dependent on grid derived electricity, which mitigates operational risks associated with load shedding. Photo: Supplied
By farming off the grid, you are less dependent on grid derived electricity, which mitigates operational risks associated with load shedding. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi
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“Crop farmers experience challenges with pump irrigation. So, I believe that renewable power could help most of farmers to have an alternative when Eskom is experiencing power-generating challenges.”  

Nhlengethwa shares that apart from providing farmers with uninterrupted electricity access, acquiring a private power source within the municipality might also save farmers money and prevent farm accidents.

“Farmers will have access to electricity, most probably at an affordable rate, and if power cuts do not occur, it could prevent some fatalities that could occur during load-shedding. Especially [for] those who are in poultry because chickens need light 24/7,” he says.

ALSO READ: Load shedding: How to farm off the grid

New energy policy

The eThekwini Municipality asked private developers, investors and experienced energy infrastructure organisations to submit information for the possible procurement of power. 

This is part of Durban’s newly adopted energy policy and is in line with the city’s climate action plan (CAP), the first of its kind to be adopted in Africa.

Long-term goals of the CAP include having 100% of energy being supplied by renewable energy in 2050. Furthermore, the policy aims to create a resilient, integrated municipal energy system with a diversified energy mix to provide low-cost, reliable energy for residents and businesses over the next 30 years.  

Meanwhile, Nhlengetwa says they are already assisting a farmer within the municipal boundaries with rechargeable lights as an alternative power source. “Well, they won’t be quite [fully] efficient, but they would be effective to give the chickens light so that they can continue eating their feed,” he quips.

ALSO READ: Township farmers devastated by electricity, fuel price hike 

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