Prepaid solar electricity coming to your home

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Solar panels by WiSolar, which use high-quality Q-Cell solar cells.
Solar panels by WiSolar, which use high-quality Q-Cell solar cells.

Bronkhorstspruit -based energy solutions company WiSolar will soon rollout a prepaid, decentralised solar electricity solution in South Africa and beyond.

The development comes as Eskom released dire financial numbers yesterday, showing the power utility had one of the worst business losses in the country’s history, losing R20.7 billion during the 2018/19 financial year.

WiSolar announced the soon to be launched solar-as-a-service product in Nigeria and South Africa last week, saying it plans to use its existing capabilities and channel partners to scale and increase coverage.

A company spokesperson says: “We have again reiterated the goal of working to protect the environment and strengthen country communities through solar energy projects with the recent announcement that the company will be rolling out its prepaid, decentralised solar electricity (solar-as-a-service) for variable load project.”

The company says there is an “increasing cry for the mass adoption of clean energy solutions such as solar, as countries across the globe begin to realise the need for current and future generations to have equal access to essential social services while living on a thriving and sustainable planet”.

According to WiSolar, it is bringing price-competitive energy to the market that will be available in all of SA’s nine provinces.

WiSolar panels placed at homes capture the sun’s energy, channel it through discreetly placed wires to an inverter, where it’s converted to electricity to power a home.

The company’s proposed pricing is ZAR 0.82 cents per KWh, which it says is less than grid parity.

“US electricity pricing is 12 US cents per KWh and Eskom pricing is 148.07 cents per kWh. As at April 2019, the Eskom bill for a typical household is R1 350, which is subject to increase in the year 2020 and 2021. By 2022, we’ll be paying 22.7% more for SA grid electricity,” the spokesperson notes.

The introduction of solar prepaid electricity will be an add-on to various initiatives that are being undertaken across the country.

The South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) has been encouraging firms to find energy solutions, saying the country is ripe for businesses to make applications for finance to develop renewable energy and energy-efficiency projects.

SANEDI was established in 2011 under the National Energy Act, 2008. The Act provides for SANEDI to direct, monitor and conduct energy research and development, promote energy research and technology innovation, as well as undertake measures to promote energy-efficiency throughout the economy.

Financially-constrained Eskom, which supplies about 90% of SA's power, recently implemented stage four rotational load-shedding.

As the challenges at Eskom persist, SA has been making steady progress in incorporating renewables into the country's energy mix.

Government envisages that in 2030, the energy mix will consist of 34 000MW of coal, representing 46% of installed capacity; 11 930MW of gas, or 16% of installed capacity; 11 442MW of wind, or 15% of installed capacity; 7 958MW of photovoltaic (PV, or solar); and 4 696MW of hydropower, or 6% of installed capacity.

This was stipulated in the country's Integrated Resource Plan 2018, a 20-year energy roadmap to meet SA's future power needs.

Electricity prices increased in SA from1 April. Last month, energy regulator Nersa said it had granted power utility Eskom the following tariff increases over the next three years: 9.41% or allowed revenue of R206.34 billion for 2019/2020; 8.10% or allowed revenue of R221.8 billion for 2020/2021, and 5.83% or allowed revenue of R233.1 billion for 2021/2022.

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