Small-scale Embedded Energy Generation: A Part of SA’s Smart Future

At the recent Windaba conference in Cape Town, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe, said: “In the first quarter of 2019 the economy contracted by 3.2 percent; with energy making a negative contribution to the GDP. The key factors behind the decline were load shedding and the high electricity price. Faced with an old generation infrastructure and an Eskom in crisis, we must invest in new generation capacity…It is evident that the traditional power delivery model is being disrupted by technological developments related to new systems. Small-scale embedded generation through wind, biomass, biogas and municipal solid waste possess a great potential. We must invest in that space.”

“We applaud the Minister’s recognition of the potential held by small-scale renewable energy generation,” says Devin Osborne, CEO of Thula Moya, a family-run business focused on increasing the adoption of renewable energy and the exclusive local dealer of the Archimedes Windmill (AWM), a silent wind turbine suitable for residential and commercial sector use.

He continues: “South Africa is particularly well suited to wind energy. In fact, we could be producing over 2,000 kWh per square meter per year, especially along the coastal areas where there is a lot more wind available. Additionally, almost 100% of land available is able to produce between 1,000 kWh and 1,300 kWh per year using solar energy.”

Osborne believes that South Africans should be exploring small-scale embedded generation, not only as this is a means of reducing their carbon footprint, but because the price of electricity will only continue to climb. “The ever-increasing cost of electricity is especially impacting farmers as they pay the highest tariffs, but they also are the ones who have the most abundant space and land available to install renewable energy on their property. In the future, more and more farmers will be installing renewable energy on their farms. Next on the tariff list are residential and commercial areas. I believe that you will see more people installing the renewable energy technology on their roofs going forward since skyrocketing electricity prices will make renewable energy a very viable option for these markets.”

He notes that the National Development Plan foresees that by 2030 at least 95% of the population will have access to electricity be it grid or off grid. “This adds up to an additional 29,000MW of electricity that needs to be produced, of which 20, 000MW has been allocated to renewable energy. To achieve this, the country has committed to start building smart, sustainable cities. However, in order to succeed, smart cities need smart citizens and that starts with each of us behaving smartly and beginning to adopt the technologies that will enable our cities to be part of the renewable energy revolution. Installing a single AWM, for instance, can produce roughly 95kWh to 250 kWh per month, depending on location. This can account for over 25% of an average household’s electricity needs, adding between 800kWh and 2000kWh per year. Linking this to a solar PV system can save the average household 95% of their electricity costs.”

Osborne adds that with research conducted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research revealing that there are approximately three million people living in South Africa’s rural areas without electricity[1],the turbine is also a great solution for empowering these communities through the generation of clean electricity.

“With South Africa being rich in renewable energy sources such as wind and solar and with these already supplying electricity at a cheaper rate than that of coal, small-scale embedded generation should be a no brainer,” concludes Osborne.


Article first appeared in Startup Africa.  Read original article here

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