Traditionally, the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure has garnered its utilities from a single source with limited demand-side interventions.

Words Nicole Cameron

iREREP – A renewable future ahead for government properties

The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) is the largest property owner in South Africa, covering 37-million square metres over more than 92 000 facilities. Annually, the Department’s property portfolio consumes 4 021 gigawatt hours of electricity and 94-million kilolitres of water and produces two-million tons of waste. This equates annually to between R14.5-billion and R19.3-billion in water, electricity and waste expenditure.

This programme, supported by the Government Technical Advisory Centre (GTAC), is aimed at rolling out energy efficiency (including solar geysers), water efficiency, alternative waste management and embedded solar PV as well as other renewable energy options at its property portfolio.

Called the Integrated Renewable Energy and Resource Efficiency Programme (iREREP), it will be the largest programme for the procurement of renewable energy and resource efficiency for public facilities, with up to 3 740MW of renewable energy procured per annum, attracting private sector capital investment of up to R370-billion in the period to 2050.

“The structure of the iREREP necessitates a level of collaboration in the market across various service providers to be able to deliver innovative solutions for energy supply and efficiency, water efficiency and alternative waste management,” says Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure Patricia de Lille. “The industry needs to introduce new ideas and creative solutions to meet the objectives of the iREREP.”


One of the key objectives of the programme is socio-economic progress, which includes job creation and skills development. Over the 30-year period, it is estimated that 503 000 green jobs will be created, along with the upskilling of more than 475 000. The targeted group will be the female youth. Key projected investments from the programme include savings and revenue worth over R401-billion by 2050, which can be reallocated to other government priorities; up to R1.3-trillion direct contribution to GDP; up to R1.3 trillion new small businesses will be developed (majority being black-owned); a reduction in energy use intensity of between 22% and 45%; a water use intensity reduction of between 30% and 55%; a reduction in waste and diversion of 50% of current waste from landfill sites, saving 12-million tons; and a reduction in CO₂ and other GHG emission by over 54.5 megatons.


Renewable energy and energy security. Solar PV (rooftop, carport, ground-mounted and building-integrated), solar thermal energy, biomass, wind energy, hydropower, geothermal energy, ocean energy, fuel cell, energy storage and electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

Energy efficiency. Solutions to improve thermal performances of building envelope, to progress HVAC and refrigeration system performance, reduce energy consumption to produce hot water, improve lighting system efficiency, upgrade pumps and motors efficiency, reduce electricity consumption via monitoring and control systems, improve efficiency of electric systems, improve performance of steam production and steam network, improvement of general process equipment, improve energy efficiency through integrated design and utilisation of waste heat.

Water efficiency. Solutions offering leak detection, water efficiency systems and appliances, low-flow and water efficient dispenser, water harvesting, water treatment, automatic control and sensor systems, steam system retrofits, improved landscaping and irrigation.

Alternative waste management. The basic principles of “reduce”, “re-use” and “recycle” will be introduced. Solutions may include awareness campaigns to reduce waste, sorting of waste, recycling, and waste-to-energy initiatives such as anaerobic digestion, composting/organic waste, pyrolysis and gasification.

The industry needs to introduce new ideas and creative solutions to meet the objectives of the iREREP.

The programme, which is intended to be a large contributor to the government’s National Economic Recovery Plan, is based on five key themes. These include centralised governance (implemented through centralised office in accordance with international best practice); security of supply (through lowering resource demand, improving resource efficiency and promoting alternative sources of utilities governance); budget rationalisation (reduction in government spending towards utilities); socio-economic development (contribution to small business development, job creation and GDP); and environmental sustainability (reduction of energy and water consumption intensity and emissions reduction).

This programme presents a unique opportunity to harness the partnership between government and business to create a prosperous South Africa.


Several significant milestones have already been achieved, with the completion of the Request for Proposals (RFP) paving the way for upcoming milestones such as the RFP release in the first quarter of 2023, followed by the Bidders Conference, also in the first quarter, and the announcement of the preferred bidder in the last quarter of 2023. As the projects are being procured on a public- private partnership basis, the private party will design, finance, construct, operate and maintain the assets throughout the entire project life cycle and transfer at the end of the contract.

“Loadshedding has elevated the importance and impact of the programme, and so its implementation has been fast-tracked to contribute to load reduction, and the generation of additional capacity,” says De Lille.

“This programme presents a unique opportunity to harness the partnership between government and business to create a prosperous South Africa,” she continues. “There is an opportunity for large-scale innovation in government that not only promotes resource efficiency and saves money but is also a major effort towards protecting the planet from the devastating effects of climate change. As government, business and residents, we all need to step up and look for more ways to save water, reduce energy consumption and carbons emissions, because it is our duty to ensure we take care of the planet now for future generations,” she concludes.