Orania on solar energy plan to get off Eskom grid

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The Afrikaner-only town, Orania, in the Northern Cape is generating its own power supply. With the country currently battling rolling blackouts, residents in Orania hope to be independent from Eskom in the next five years.

The town has completed phase one of its renewable energy plans, which generates more than 20% of the town’s electricity demands.

The town is also currently independent from its local Thembelihle Municipality. Spokesperson for the Orania Movement Joost Strydom explains.

“It was always part of the Orania plan to take care of our own community on as many levels as possible including something like electricity. So this is not something in reaction to the load shedding that we see now. However, we prioritise energy for our community now.”

Business owners in the Afrikaner only town say they are hopeful the town’s ability to generate it’s own electricity independently from Eskom will be beneficial to their businesses.

Business owners have also shared their views.

“Orania is still part of South Africa so we still need to deal with the same issues that South Africa deals with. So when there is load shedding it is also happening in Orania and it is one of the factors keeping us back as small business owners and bigger business owners. It is big factor in our everyday business.”

“We have a restaurant as well as a call centre. The restaurant uses a lot of energy and we must improvise. So I hope that will help us.”

Whilst the rest of the country is experiencing power cuts due to Eskom’s power outages, the town says it hopes to protect its residents and economy from the challenges posed by rolling blackouts. Ora Sol Project Leader, Riaan Jacobs explains.

“To get Orania totality off the grid we need approximately 4 to 5 Megawatts bigger plant. Maybe not as big at this stage because we plan to use Eskom at night. At the moment it is from 6am to 10 pm so we don’t have to build 4 to 5 Megawatts right now.”

The recently completed phase one solar project generates 841 kilowatts, which powers 200 homes. The town has a population of approximately 2 500 people.

Section 235 of the South African Constitution recognizes a community’s right to self-determination within the framework of the Constitution and the law. That is, within the framework of the borders and law of this country.

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