Rapidly increasing electricity prices, significant decreases in the price of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies, as well as increasing availability of financing have all combined to create a large demand for viable small scale embedded generation and energy efficiency systems in South Africa. At the same time, over the past few years, municipalities have taken up the challenge to explore sustainable energy solutions that will provide a reliable and secure supply of electricity into the future.
This clean energy revolution presents South Africa with an exciting opportunity to tackle numerous issues linked to the universal provision of safe and affordable energy to all citizens. If this opportunity is seized, traditional energy development can be leapfrogged by transitioning directly to a more sustainable technology, while avoiding the dirty energy legacy of most developed countries.
Currently, the Western Cape Government and local municipalities have a window of opportunity to play a proactive role in the shifting energy landscape and establishing the Western Cape as the leading green economy hub in Africa by 2022. The provinces commitment to this goal is evident in the work of the Western Cape Government Energy Security Game Changer that aims to contribute to a national solution to South Africa’s energy issues while boosting the local economy.
As a leading municipality, Hessequa is ready to embark on a renewable energy journey as part of a long-term strategy and Integrated Development Plan (IDP). The energy users in the municipality – both residential and commercial – form a critical part of this journey. This article is written for them. It focuses on what renewable energy is and why it is important. It also provides guidance for Hessequa’s energy users on policies that can support their renewable energy journey, and outlines some steps to take when installing solar photovoltaic (PV).
Why renewable energy?
The current drought has, for the first time, opened our eyes to the potential impacts of climate change It is now no longer a question whether climate change is real, but rather how can we contribute in mitigating its effects where we live. As South Africans, we all have an obligation to mitigate climate change as signatory of the Kyoto Protocol and the United Nations Framework for Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Mitigating climate change is all about reducing carbon emissions to ensure that our future generations could still live on earth as we know it. The World Bank shows that climate change creates risks to food production, increases heat extremes and droughts, changes to vegetation and risk of species extinction in sub-Saharan Africa. Climate change, in the extreme warming of 2°C, could indirectly cause malnutrition in an additional 10 million children by 2050, as shown in the info-graphic.
The good news is that through renewable energy we will not only decrease carbon emissions, but we can also reap of the many benefits of renewable energy projects. These benefits for Hessequa include innovative and proactive service delivery, sustainable economic development and job creation, environmental conservation, and energy security – all while keeping municipal tariffs affordable.
What is renewable energy?
Renewable energy is a source of energy that is not depleted when used, such as sunlight, wind, hydro and biomass. In the Hessequa area we have these energy sources in abundance and although not all these sources might be financially viable (at the current moment) it is worth investigating for the future. Table 1 provides an overview of the different renewable energy sources and their potential in Hessequa.
Irradiation levels in Hessequa:
Ranges between 76 kWh/m² in winter months to 221 kWh/m² in summer months.
(Source: SoDa HelioClim)
Average wind speeds in Hessequa:
6,25 m/s to 6,46 m/s
(Source: Wind atlas South Africa)
|Hydro Power can potentially be generated at Korente Poort Dam. Energy can also be generated from the ocean. We can use the waves (wave energy, wave power), ocean tidal power (ocean high and low tides), and we can even use temperature differences in the water to create an energy (Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion, OTEC).|
Biomass availability in high density areas in Hessequa:
Range: 97 535 to 220 498 t/year
Average: 159 017 t/year
(Source: Bio-Energy Altas of South Africa)
Alien plants such as Rooipitjie can be a great source of biomass. Also, the current problem with landfill waste can be managed through energy generation.
Where to start with the renewable energy journey?
In 2013 the municipality worked with the Centre of Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies of Stellenbosch to conduct a study to determine the viability of rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) in Riversdale, which resulted in a positive outcome.
In 2015, the Energy Summit was held in collaboration with the School of Public Leadership of Stellenbosch University. This summit concluded, with a vote of 64 to 36, in favour of pursuing renewable energy opportunities.
On the back of this strong support, Hessequa has taken a proactive approach to the municipality’s renewable energy journey and continues to work with experts in the field of renewable energy to investigate potential future renewable energy opportunities.
There is clearly significant solar PV potential in the Hessequa area and the municipality has decided on solar as the starting point of its renewable energy journey. The first step is to start with small scale embedded generation (SSEG) to mitigate increases in future electricity costs and to reduce the demand for electricity provided by Eskom. SSEG is any form of generation, mostly solar PV, that is smaller than 1MW, located on the customer side of the municipal electricity meter and that is used mostly for own consumption.
Small Scale Embedded Generation (SSEG) Policy
The renewable energy strategy of the municipality currently focuses on implementing policies around SSEG, which will pave the way for the installation of affordable and safe generation within the municipality.
What does the implementation of the SSEG Policy mean to the customer?
The implementation of the SSEG Policy will provide a regulated environment for customers who want to convert to a renewable energy solution, such as solar PV. This will help customers save on the cost of electricity, ensure security of electricity supply and reduce their own carbon emissions footprint. The SSEG Policy provides guidelines to ensure that the energy system being installed is safe, that the municipality is aware of all SSEG installations, that the customers are on the correct electricity tariff and that accurate metering is installed.
A national shift in the way municipalities function has pushed for tariff charges will consist of a fixed charge and an energy charge for the 2018/2019 financial year. The potential to implement a feed-in tariff in the 2019/2020 financial year is still being investigated. A feed-in tariff will provide customers with a further cost saving on their electricity bill as they will get ‘paid’ for excess electricity being fed into the grid.
Where do I start as an electricity user?
Currently, the South African small scale embedded generation (SSEG) market is dominated by rooftop solar PV given the competitive price, technical maturity and ease of implementation of this technology. Increasingly, solar PV systems are being installed by businesses, residences and government departments around the country. It is estimated that current installed capacity in South Africa is ~212MWp.
Capital cost of system
(cost per kWp)
ESCo Power Purchase Agreement tariff
(price per kWh)
|< 100 kWp||R 13 500 – R 16 000||R 1.20 – R 1.45|
|> 100kWp and < 500 kWp||R 11 500 – R 14 000||R 1.05 – R 1.25|
|> 500 kWp||R 10 500 – R 13 000||R 0.90 – R 1.15|
Source: GreenCape analysis
Solar PV is a system that produces electricity from sunlight without any moving parts. The system uses solar panels which you can see on the rooftops of houses and business buildings. The electricity generated from the sun is converted through a control device to enable it to power electrical devices in the building.
To apply for a small scale embedded system for residential, commercial or industrial use, follow the steps below:
- Step 1: Visit the municipal website or office – www.hessequa.gov.za
- Step 2: Complete an application form
- Step3: Obtain permission from the Municipal departments
- Step 4: Submit application forms
- Step 5: Installation commence upon approval of application
- Step 6: Commissioning and documentation submitted to Municipality
- Step 7: Inspection of installation
- Step 8: Approval granted to connect to municipal grid
- Step 9: Repeat the process in the case of SSEG capacity expansion
The Municipality of Hessequa continues to strive for development that benefits all customers. Safe and legal SSEG represents an exciting opportunity for individual customer’s financial savings, local economic development and job creation!!
Enquiries and recommendations in this regard
Enquiries and recommendations in this regard can be addressed to the Electricity Department of the Municipality at (028) 713 8000 or to firstname.lastname@example.org
Abundant sunshine across the South Africa means that solar energy offers a highly favourable solution. The relative affordability (increasingly so) and simplicity of solar photovoltaic (PV) generation systems means that is has become more affordable for citizens to acquire a solar PV system on their rooftops.