City Energy Support Unit

A Low Carbon and Sustainable Development Future for South African Cities (through SEA's City Energy Support Unit - CESU)

This project drives SEA’s core work of supporting South African cities to move towards a less carbon intensive future, while at the same time reducing social inequality. The focus is on supporting implementation by local government of ‘flagship projects’ identified in the National Climate Change Response Strategy, including data collection and collation, energy efficiency and renewable energy development. The project has various work areas, supporting the overarching goal:
1. To develop a national profile for local government sustainable energy pathways through close    cooperation with stakeholders and policy input;
2. Low Carbon Energy Action Plan development for two cities;
3. Technical support for implementation of low carbon measures in cities;
4. Informal sector sustainable energy implementation;
5. Capacity building, lesson sharing and information development.

Donor: Bread for the World
Project timeframe: March 2012 – February 2015
Project Manager: Megan Euston-Brown

Projects which has been funded under the CESU programme:

1: National profile for local government energy for development
We have worked closely with South African Local Government Association (SALGA), the South African Cities Network (SACN) and ICLEI to develop a national Urban Energy Platform convening organisations and officials working in this area. Policy input has been developed through engagement with local government representatives in forum meetings and input made towards, amongst others, the Draft Integrated Energy Plan (2012) and the Integrated Resource Plan 2010 – 2013, as well as the National Climate Change Monitoring and Evaluation Plan.
2: Low Carbon Energy Action Plan Development
To develop a low carbon action plan it is necessary to undertake some energy and carbon modelling to clarify a viable set of implementation objectives to achieve a low carbon pathway and the carbon implications of different pathways. The Long-range Energy Alternatives Planning (LEAP) software was recently assessed by UCT’s Energy Research Centre to be the most suitable model for local-level energy modelling in a developing city context. We have utilised this software and generated energy data in order to develop energy models for the City of Cape Town and eThekwini. Scenarios contain a variety of energy interventions, e.g. the impact of a solar water heater rollout programme, a modal shift from public to private transport, etc. This is compared to a ‘business as usual’ scenario. The modelling outputs have been developed into Decision Makers’ Reports that are used to inform policy direction or motivate for the implementation of energy-related projects. This work informs strategies and targets within Cape Town’s Energy and Climate Action Plan and the eThekwini Climate Change Strategy. SEA was also an appointed ‘expert’ in energy for the Cape Town Spatial Development Framework.
3. Technical support for implementation of low carbon measures in cities
Core components of a move to a low carbon city are renewable energy supply, energy efficiency, sustainable electricity distribution businesses and compact/mobile urban development. This often requires new approaches and additional technical support is needed to build and develop the capacity and experience to manage and implement new projects within cities. The project has provided detailed support to understanding the impact of energy efficiency and renewable energy on municipal electricity distribution businesses, energy efficiency potentials, green municipal building development, solar water heater rollout, rooftop PV installation and small-scale, embedded generation policy and procedures. In addition substantial support was provided towards the development of State of Energy reports and Energy and Climate Strategies of the secondary cities (undertaken by SALGA). Support is provided through research and knowledge outputs, workshops and meetings.
4. Informal sector sustainable energy implementation 
Energy is central to meeting basic human needs and improving living standards. Electrification across South Africa’s urban areas has been impressive, but many houses remain thermally inefficient and the growing informal sector in cities represents a challenge in terms of meeting energy needs. The project has explored a successful approach to expansion of the electrification programme to informal settlements and developed a guide around this for municipalities. In addition, the project has supported the alternative low income housing development of the Joe Slovo settlement in Cape Town. In Cape Town some initial work has been done towards the development of a participatory, low income household energy poverty strategy. 
5. Capacity building, lesson sharing and information development
The project has built on and further developed SEA’s long-standing network of local government professionals and related stakeholders. This network forms the core of the project’s engagement with local government, and provides a space in which issues are raised and new learnings shared and disseminated. Network meetings focus on issues of immediate relevance and are held bi-annually. These are now run in partnership with SALGA and the SA Cities Network. A national Urban Energy Web Platform has been developed and the project also hosts the master’s-level Urban Energy for Sustainable Development course, run in collaboration with the Energy Research Centre and the Engineering Faculty, University of Cape Town. Various materials to support local government implementation have been developed and a third iteration of the State of Energy in South African cities is under development.
For more information on the above projects refer to the Urban Energy Support portal.