Electricity from rooftop solar to be sold into grid

Samuel Mungadze
By Samuel Mungadze, Africa editor
Johannesburg, 23 Jan 2023
President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Households and businesses will soon be allowed to sell surplus electricity from rooftop solar panels into the national grid.

President Cyril Ramaphosa revealed the plan today in his weekly newsletter, saying solar panels on the roofs of houses and businesses are a major source of energy to be tapped into.

This comes as power utility Eskom is failing to sustainably provide power and has implemented round the clock power cuts in the past year.

Eskom said yesterday its recovery will take some time and board chairperson Mpho Makwana revealed the power utility is exploring the possibility of permanently implementing stages two and three of load-shedding over the next two years, in order to give power stations the “headroom” to address power station maintenance issues.

Commenting on the energy crisis in his newsletter, Ramaphosa wrote: “We are using every means at our disposal, calling on every resource we have, to get power onto the grid as a matter of extreme urgency.”

To this end, the president says: “We have cut red tape and streamlined regulatory processes, reducing the timeframes for environmental authorisations, registration of new projects and grid connection approvals.

“Another major source of new generating capacity are solar panels on the roofs of houses and businesses. Work will soon be completed on a pricing structure that will allow customers to sell surplus electricity from rooftop solar panels into the grid.”

The president says to increase the overall supply of electricity, in addition to what Eskom provides, government has taken steps to enable substantial investment by private power producers in new generation capacity.

“The licensing requirement for embedded generation projects has been removed. Since we first raised the licensing threshold to 100MW, the pipeline of private sector projects has grown to more than 100 projects with over 9 000MW of capacity.”

Ramaphosa says Eskom is also working to connect Kusile Unit 5 to the grid by September this year.

“Every urgent effort is being made to restore other units at Medupi, Kusile and Koeberg with significant capacity. Eskom has imported 300MW of capacity from neighbouring countries. There are negotiations under way to secure an additional 1 000MW.

“Eskom is also working to buy surplus power from companies with available generation capacity for a period of three years.”

Government has signed agreements for 25 projects from bid windows five and six of the renewable energy programme, and these projects will soon be proceeding to construction, he notes. Collectively, they represent 2 800MW of new capacity.