Finweek English Edition - - COVER -

Load-shed­ding is likely to be a part of our lives for the next three years and pos­si­bly even longer. And with tar­iffs also ris­ing – Eskom is ask­ing for a 25.3% in­crease this year – it just makes fi­nan­cial sense to min­imise Eskom con­sump­tion even if the elec­tric­ity sup­ply was se­cure.

In South Africa, there are only two al­ter­na­tive en­ergy so­lu­tions for the house­hold: wind and so­lar. The use of wind power, how­ever, is only fea­si­ble on the east coast and west coast, as the wind doesn’t blow strongly enough else­where. For the rest of the coun­try, so­lar is the best bet.

This is ac­cord­ing to the chair­man of the South­ern African Al­ter­na­tive En­ergy As­so­ci­a­tion, Al­wyn Smith. He says wind en­ergy so­lu­tions are very spe­cialised and gen­er­ally end up be­ing more ex­pen­sive than so­lar be­cause of the main­te­nance costs.

Ac­cord­ing t o Smith, get­ting a s ol ar pho­to­voltaic (PV) sys­tem is an ini­tial cap­i­tal in­vest­ment that is worth its cost. Although most so­lar en­ergy in­stall­ers will en­cour­age you to get a full sys­tem at once, Smith says con­sumers can in­stall it one step at a time if they can­not af­ford the en­tire sys­tem at once.

In the lo­cal con­text, the first dilemma is over­com­ing load-shed­ding. Smith says con­sumers can get a bat­tery back-up sys­tem, which in­cludes a bat­tery and an in­verter. The bat­ter­ies are charged when you have elec­tric­ity, and once load-shed­ding oc­curs, the in­verter will con­vert the en­ergy in the bat­ter­ies to about 220 volts of power so you can run your essen­tials from them.

“What is im­por­tant to un­der­stand is that with this sim­ple sys­tem you are not sav­ing any­thing

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