South African homeowners and businesses are increasingly opting for solar powered solutions in order to cut their dependence on Eskom and contribute to the growing alternative energy industry.
Africa is one of the sunniest places on the Earth and South Africa has more than enough solar energy which we can harness so that we become the frontrunners for clean energy on the continent. Germany is a good example to follow. With much less sunny days than South Africa, Germany is the world’s biggest small-scale user of solar power and has set a target of producing 52 gigawatts for 2017. On a sunny day in June of last year, the country produced more than half of its energy needs from solar power.
The cost of installing rooftop photovoltaic systems has fallen recently and is now about on par with domestic and commercial tariffs for energy. It costs about 81c per kilowatt hour for consumers to install rooftop solar systems, which factors in the cost of financing and an interest rate of 9% over twenty years. Taking this into consideration, consumers are increasingly keen on taking responsibility for their own energy requirements. The current peak capacity from photovoltaic systems in South Africa is 10 megawatts according to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and it is estimated that the capacity could reach 500 megawatts in a year if the current upward trend in system installations continues.
The country’s energy needs will reach 90GW by 2030 and without alternative energy, the current fossil-fuel based system will not be able to provide for the nation’s needs. Therefore, solar power will be crucial and needs to account for at least 22.5 gigawatts of the supply by 2030. Some municipalities around the country have already put incentives in place to encourage consumers to install photovoltaic systems, such as the City of Cape Town which allows small-scale producers of solar energy to sell back the excess produced into the national power grid. If the positive trend continues, the South African sun will no longer be only a tourist attraction at the beaches of the ocean during the summer but will also help initiate energy efficiency and environmental conservation.