A Realistic Take On Adopting Renewable Energy Solutions In South Africa
Over the past two years or so the nation has been suffering from a debilitating congenital disease. The initial symptoms were the routine blackouts, the rising cost of electricity and an uptick in residents seeking to find alternative energy sources. As many fear that this disease may be terminal, a determined populace is actively seeking emancipation from a nanny state seemingly in free-fall. Unfortunately for most, the bloodlines run too deep and it may never be possible to sever ties completely. In a surreal state of affairs, denizens have to file partial emancipation papers with their local utility company. Even then, full emancipation may no longer be possible tying many to the electricity grid for years, even those with the means. Limited freedom for those who seek to be fully unplugged from the mains. Even if it were still possible, the kings and queens amongst us would at times still have to live like paupers. Rationing their energy supply in order to sustain a liveable lifestyle. Renewable energy is weather dependent. Whenever the weather is not favourable for self generation one has to fall back on a backup power supply and when that runs out draw power from the mains.
To the uninitiated, this is simply a ritual to be carried out over a few days. The sacrifice to be offered is money deposited into our coffers, our installers the Shermans officiating the ritual, the client’s premises the vessel to be possessed by the ancient magic trapped in the sun’s rays.Keli.
Often times we receive requests to take clients off the grid completely. To the uninitiated, this is simply a ritual to be carried out over a few days. The sacrifice to be offered is money deposited into our coffers, our installers the Shermans officiating the ritual, the client’s premises the vessel to be possessed by the ancient magic trapped in the sun’s rays. The solar panels the conduit for this ancient power directing it into the relevant appliances and devices. After all, renewable energy companies are the new Daedalus and our clients would be Icaruses. Both in flight from King Minos. However, it is hardly ever this straight forward. First we have to consider location. Based in Cape Town, the position of one’s premises to the mountain is often quite significant. For parts of the day due to the long shadow cast by the mountain some solar panels may be in shade. Of course it is possible to position the panels to get the most out of the sun and to install optimisers(clever little gadgets that determine which panels are most viable for solar harvesting)but that is just a start. We also have to consider storage capacity for any excess energy generated that isn’t for immediate consumption. While the prices of Li-ion batteries have fallen considerably over the past few years they are still a significant investment and a significant part of the cost of a new installation. Finally but most importantly there are City regulations that have to be adhered to. The sizing of a PV installation is often done per City guidelines. While regulations can be good, they can at times become a roadblock as opposed to guard rails ensuring the safety of all.
Some will promise you the stars, we are comfortable with our one star. Give us a shout and with your help we will build you wings to elevate you to new heights.Keli.
For most, the road to energy independence is a long walk to freedom. However, each journey has its inaugural first step. While we may not be able to control what the government agencies and utilities do with regard to power supply in South Africa, we can manage the situation around us. Little things such as replacing all our lights with energy saving equivalents and installing timers and blankets on our geysers are a good first step. The next step will be to approach a renewable energy consultant and look into available options while keeping expectations in check. While we may be able to break the space-time continuum, it is doubtful as to whether this would be the best use of a client’s resources. It also may be illegal. Some will promise you the stars, we are comfortable with our one star. Give us a shout and with your help we will build you wings to elevate you to new heights. And yes, our designs are time-tested, the wax won’t melt off. We will soar alongside you through every storm in pursuit of a lasting freedom.
Editors Note: This piece was originally written for a client in the South African renewable energy industry.