That crazy old sun doesn’t seem to feature in SA thinking
Disgrace that SA is not planning to make more use of an environmentally friendly, abundant natural resource
SA is not even in the game when it comes to solar electricity generation, which is forecast to expand rapidly in the world’s key economies this year.
SA has abundant sunshine, according to the department of energy’s website, but it is a sorely underutilised resource that could ease the country’s electricity shortages which are at crisis levels.
China has 45 gigawatts of installed solar photovoltaic capacity, which matches what Eskom’s on-paper capacity is from its coal-fired power stations, small hydro-schemes (which need electricity from the coal stations to keep them operational) and diesel-powered plants.
Looking at the pace of global photovoltaic installations contained in a report from IHS Markit, it’s clear that SA doesn’t have a clue when it comes to this form of energy. The latest projections are for global solar photovoltaic installations to grow by 25% this year to 129 gigawatts. SA doesn’t feature.
SA, in its latest integrated resources plan (IRP), envisions just shy of eight gigawatts from solar by 2030, with nearly half its energy needs coming from 34 gigawatts of coal-fired electricity.
A Cobenefits Study released in March suggested that in SA’s metropolitan municipalities there was an economic rooftop installation potential of 11 gigawatts in the residential sector alone, which could deliver annual savings for those electricity users of R12.8bn by 2030.
And why is SA not going flat out on solar?
The reason is contained in the updated IRP: “Taking into account grid constraints and available SA capacity (engineering, manufacture, supply, construction, financing and project management) the roll-out of wind and solar PV capacities at the maximum annual build limits may not be practical,” the report said.
It’s a disgrace that SA is not planning to make more use of an environmentally friendly, abundant natural resource. It’s a bigger shame that it’s not getting out of the way of those who want to install these systems, both independent power producers as well as small and large electricity users.