Categories: Government
| On
2023-09-04 1:48 PM

Steenbras Dam: Cape Town’s Power Saviour

  • Steenbras Dam's Crucial Role: It shields Cape Town from power cuts, offering protection against debilitating energy shortages.
  • Future-Ready Upgrades: Expansion plans and a major refurbishment in 2027 aim to bolster its capacity and reliability.
  • Energy Crisis Concerns: A significant drop in available electricity between 2022 and 2023 raises red flags for investment and development.
By Lethabo Ntsoane

Premier Alan Winde’s 23rd Energy Digicon ventured into the heart of Cape Town’s strategic defense against the ever-looming energy crisis – the Steenbras Pumped Storage Station. Joined by Cape Town’s Executive Mayor, Alderman Geordin Hill-Lewis, the premier’s visit shed light on this vital infrastructure’s remarkable ability to safeguard residents, businesses, and the city’s economy from debilitating power cuts.

Amid the event’s inauguration, Premier Winde extended his heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones affected by the tragic building fire that recently engulfed Johannesburg’s city center. His compassionate gesture affirmed the Western Cape Government’s readiness to lend a helping hand to the City of Johannesburg, its emergency services, and the Gauteng Provincial Government in the face of such a devastating disaster.

While the day commenced on a somber note, the enthusiasm of Premier Winde and his team became evident as they delved into exploring the inner workings of the Steenbras Pumped Storage Station. Depending on dam water levels, this facility can shield Cape Town from one or two stages of loadshedding, marking a beacon of hope amidst South Africa’s power supply challenges.

Mayor Hill-Lewis commended the exceptional dedication of the team responsible for maintaining the facility, highlighting its remarkable condition, which stands in stark contrast to the struggles faced by many other power stations across the nation. He also unveiled plans for Steenbras’ future, including expanding the size of the lower dam to augment storage capacity and a substantial refurbishment scheduled for 2027. These upgrades are expected to significantly enhance the station’s capabilities, offering an even greater shield against load shedding.

Steenbras Pumped Storage Station is a multifaceted asset, serving as both a water reservoir and a colossal battery during power cuts. Its operation relies on a hydroelectric system that ingeniously addresses electricity shortages:

1During power cuts, water from the upper dam is released into the lower dam, generating up to 160 MW of power through its pumped storage hydroelectric system.
2During periods of reduced electricity usage, typically during nighttime, the facility’s turbines pump water back to the upper dam, ready to be harnessed during daytime peak hours.

A cornerstone of the station’s success lies in its unwavering commitment to maintenance, ensuring it continues to function efficiently beyond its original design parameters.

In a sobering update on the nation’s power grid, Alwie Lester, Special Advisor to the Premier on Energy, underscored the pressing issue of diminishing energy availability. A comparison between 2022 and 2023 paints a concerning picture:

YearAvailable Electricity (MW)
202233,000 MW
2023Just under 28,000 MW

This staggering 4,000 to 5,000 MW drop in available energy between the two years raises red flags, with significant implications for investment and development decisions by businesses and investors. The stark decline in energy availability underscores the urgency of addressing the nation’s energy crisis.

Premier Winde’s visit to Steenbras Pumped Storage Station not only showcased the facility’s crucial role in safeguarding Cape Town from power cuts but also emphasized the paramount importance of consistent maintenance and planned upgrades in ensuring a reliable energy supply. As South Africa grapples with its energy challenges, the Steenbras Dam serves as a shining example of innovation and resilience in the face of adversity.

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Lethabo Ntsoane

Lethabo Ntsoane holds a Bachelors Degree in Accounting from the University of South Africa. He is a Financial Product commentator at Rateweb. He is an expect financial product analyst with years of experience in reviewing products and offering commentary. Lethabo majors in financial news, reviews and financial tips. He can be contacted: Email: Twitter: @NtsoaneLethabo