Equites reaches power wheeling agreement with City of Cape Town

Andrea Taverna-Turisan, the CEO of Equites Properties. Photo: Supplied

Andrea Taverna-Turisan, the CEO of Equites Properties. Photo: Supplied

Published May 9, 2024


EQUITES Property Fund, the logistics focused REIT on the JSE, has this month started wheeling renewable solar energy onto Cape Town’s grid from a newly established distribution centre in Parow, as the metropole advances on its targets of protecting itself from four levels of load shedding by 2026.

The initiative falls under the City’s wheeling pilot project, which kicked off in September last year. Equites was among the first to begin wheeling energy onto the municipal grid, with its current off-taker being a commercial office block on the Foreshore, where Equites was headquartered, Equites CEO Andrea Taverna-Turisan said yesterday.

The group’s sizeable roof space facilitates enterprise-scale solar and battery back-up solutions and, according to Equites’ annual report, it was capable of generating 18.2MW from solar, equivalent to providing electricity to 11 830 homes, as well as avoiding emissions of 36 000 tons of carbon dioxide, by the end of November 2023.

“The first flow of energy from the Equites property to the city centre building, under the wheeling project, marked almost two years of engagements, significant learnings and good support from our team,” said Equites’ ESG officer, Irshaad Wadvalla.

“This is only the start, as we have significant potential to increase our generation capacity and provide green energy to other businesses,” he said.

Businesses are under pressure to take control of their energy consumption, clamp down on CO2 emissions and reduce costs.

As a feature of its wheeling capabilities, Equites is now able to supply renewable energy to companies that do not occupy energy-efficient buildings or have the necessary infrastructure installed.

According to the City’s website, JSE-listed REIT Growthpoint Properties was the first party to wheel renewable electricity in the city last year, with electricity trader Etana Energy. The wheeling project is one of a number of measures the City is implementing to protect itself from four levels of load shedding by 2026.

The City has also become the first metropole in South Africa to pay cash for excess power supplied to its grid by small generators. On Friday, the City said 423 Cape Town households had applied in the month before to sell their excess electricity generation to the city, in exchange for municipal bill credits and cash.

Under the City’s Cash for Power programme, businesses and households have earned over R30.8 million, largely in municipal bill credits, since the start of the 2022/23 financial year until April 1, 2024, the City said.

Taverna-Turisan said Equites was committed to climate risk mitigation initiatives and to bring sustainability to the organisation, and “we’re pleased to see that come to fruition through this renewable energy project”.

The Equites head office will receive almost 100% of its daytime energy from a renewable source. It will also be able to supply green energy to other tenants.

“In practice, this involves Equites feeding energy into the grid which is allocated to the offtaker under a wheeling arrangement, and the energy is paid for at a reduced tariff through a power purchase agreement. Our goal is to use existing infrastructure and our expertise to supply other businesses across South Africa with renewable energy without them requiring capital expenditure and, with that, to alleviate demand on the grid and to reduce carbon emissions,” said Wadvalla.