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Latest tariff increase highlights why South Africans should generate their own power

The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) recently approved a 9.61% increase in the price of electricity for Eskom. While this is much lower than the utility’s requested 20.5%, it is still clear that finding alternative energy solutions has never been more important for South Africans.

Dean Erasmus, Electrical Engineer at Intelligent Power Solutions (Inpower), points out that the cost of electricity has consistently grown at above-inflation rates for a number of years already. “Neither consumers nor businesses will be able to keep up with these increases for much longer. Keep in mind that a 2020 High Court ruling has allowed Eskom to claw back around R69 billion over the following three years – which means that next year will likely see a higher increase.”

With this in mind, Erasmus says that solar power generation is one of the most sensible solutions to help electricity users cut their electricity costs. “South Africa has more than 2 500 hours of sunshine per year on average, making it one of the best places in the world for solar energy. Given the extremely high electricity tariffs, a rooftop solar generation system can actually pay for itself in as little as four years.”

He adds that both consumers and businesses in South Africa have quite a number of options when it comes to generating their own solar power. “The first option that comes to mind is investing in a grid-tied solar generation system. This allows an estate to reduce its energy spend by relying on solar power throughout the day and pulling energy from the national power grid at night (or on overcast days).”

Of course, with loadshedding still expected to be an ongoing issue in the coming years, Erasmus explains that one can also combine solar generation with grid back-up solutions that will continue to provide power when the national grid is down.

Lastly, commercial users have the option of a Power Purchase Agreement. “For a business whose electricity spend make up a huge part of their operational costs, this is probably the most practical solution by far. It allows you to acquire and install a generation system without any capital investment. Instead, a capable service provider can install, operate and maintain the system on the estate while selling electricity to the users at a predetermined rate.”

Erasmus says that, with energy tariff hikes steadily increasing the financial pressure on consumers and businesses across the country, South Africans should grab at the opportunity to invest in solar power. “There are capable service providers in the country who can cater to any client’s unique requirements. It’s time that electricity users invest in their own future,” he concludes.

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