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Cape Town CBD to take back the power amid electricity crunch


Cape Town CBD to take back the power amid electricity crunch
23-11-23 / Shelly Nxumalo

Cape Town – Electricity is very scarce in South Africa, but everyone who has a vested interested in the success of the Cape Town city centre – from commercial and residential landlords to business owners, office workers and visitors – has the power to conserve this valuable commodity for the good of Cape Town's vibrant economic and lifestyle hub.

This is the unequivocal message from the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID) as part of a new public campaign, "Switch on to Switch Off: It Just Makes Good Business Sense".

The CCID is a private-public company which manages the Cape Town CBD by offering top-up services in the form of security, cleaning, and social development in partnership with local government and SAPS. Established in 2000 by local property owners, the company also drives high-quality investment into what is arguably the country's most successful inner city.

The campaign, launched in Cape Town today, emphasises that stakeholders who own or rent property, or who work, live, or visit the CBD can make a significant difference by implementing a range of power-saving measures – from improving a skyscraper's energy efficiency to the simple act of switching off office equipment and appliances when not in use.

With the CBD estimated to contribute a substantial amount of the metro's annual gross domestic product, the CCID campaign will empower affected parties to play an active role in saving costs related to occupancy, operations and living amid the country's electricity crunch.

Eight electricity saving steps

The campaign message takes the form of a step-by-step guide that has been developed by leading experts within the electricity sector as well as affected stakeholders, and includes the following recommendations:

  • An energy audit to identify areas of high energy consumption.
  • Upgrade to LED lighting, resulting in 80 % less energy use than traditional lamps.
  • Optimising heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.
  • Promotion of energy-saving behaviour.
  • Use of energy-efficient office equipment.
  • Installation of renewable energy systems.
  • Integration of battery storage to provide backup power during power outages.
  • Implementation of demand shaving to shift energy consumption to off-peak periods when electricity prices are lower.

Rob Kane, chairperson of the CCID Board and CEO of Boxwood Property Fund, says by taking responsibility and ownership of their own power-saving initiatives, stakeholders can ensure that Cape Town's world-famous CBD continues to thrive.

"We need to act now, and we are calling on everyone to play their part. Our catchphrase could not be more perfect – you need to be switched on about switching off."

Ground-breaking initiatives

The campaign comes on the back of several ground-breaking initiatives by the City of Cape Town to bolster the city's power supply.

The municipality is planning to add a gigawatt of independent power to the metro's grid, with the first 650 megawatts expected to come online by 2025/26 to protect against the first four stages of Eskom's load-shedding.

There is also already more than 100MW of installed solar PV capacity in the metro, while in December 2022, the City introduced its Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) compliance initiative to ensure implementation of regulations for all government buildings over 1,000 m2 and all privately owned buildings above 2000 m2 within specific occupancy classes to publicly display an EPC within two years.

CCID chief executive Tasso Evangelinos says through the campaign the CCID aims to assist valued inner-city property owners, tenants, and occupants in a way that "fully recognises the challenges they face amid the rolling blackouts".

According to Kane, each building should be able to save 15 % of its power by implementing measures contained in the eight-point plan and collaborating with landlords, tenants and the CCID itself.

Boxwood Property Fund is setting an excellent example in terms of consumption reduction, having already saved 11 % on power with a further 7 to 10 % decrease targeted. It has rolled out a programme that monitors each of its buildings at night to ensure lights are turned off in unoccupied areas.

Boxwood recently received a 4-star rating from the Green Building Council for these efforts.

Sustanable Approach

Francois Viruly, an associate professor, and director of the Urban Real Estate Research Unit at the University of Cape Town, says there is much that can be achieved through a comprehensive and sustainable approach to the CCID's recommendations.

"This includes the use of new energy-saving technologies and ensuring that enterprises and individuals most affected by load-shedding are appropriately catered for. It also offers an opportunity for the city to find an appropriate balance between economic, social, and environmental sustainability."

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