Here’s an idea to beat load-shedding – instead of bailing out Eskom, subsidise solar power

Instead of giving Eskom a bailout to cover its R419-billion debt, a cheaper and more sustainable solution is to create a rebate or incentivised photovoltaic solar programme for residential electricity consumers.

“You can implement that within six months and have no more load-shedding,” Rubicon sales director Greg Blandford told MyBroadband.

Blandford said that such a rebate programme would only need around R50 billion if the government agreed to refund 50% of the cost of a 5 kilowatt solar power system for residential customers.

This would allow 5 million homes to have a 5kW photovoltaic solar system installed, possibly feeding excess power into the grid where allowed or storing it in batteries for night-time consumption.

Theoretically the combined power output would equal 150 million kWh per day, which translates into an average annual production of almost 55 terawatt-hours.

Not only would this eliminate load-shedding in a much shorter time frame compared to building extra central generation capacity, Blandford said, it also moves South Africa towards a decentralised energy programme.

“Globally this is the trend, and now is the time to implement it for South Africa,” he said.

“We are in an opportunity window which will allow this to happen rapidly and get our economy back on track. Eskom should cut its losses and focus on getting their current infrastructure operational once again. Let the private sector and government move quickly to restore power stability.”

Decentralised power utility

Blandford said that technology already exists which can control vast decentralised energy production and storage.

One such platform is Grid Services, developed by SolarEdge.

SolarEdge unveiled its Grid Services and Virtual Power Plant system in May 2018, stating that its solution will help support a shared energy economy.

According to SolarEdge, its system helps resolve a variety of complex energy issues such as generation shortages, transmission bottlenecks, energy arbitrage, and frequency imbalances.

“As PV markets evolve from feed-in tariffs to net-metering and finally to self-consumption, the grid services will provide homeowners with the opportunity to maximise self-consumption and take advantage of time-of-use tariffs as a revenue stream,” SolarEdge said.

“This technology is the future,” said Blandford. “If Eskom remains defiant and does not adapt to these changes, South Africa’s economy will die along with its power utility.”

Now read: Load-shedding creating massive demand for battery backup systems

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Here’s an idea to beat load-shedding – instead of bailing out Eskom, subsidise solar power