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Going solar amid load shedding woes and increased electricity tariffs

Residential solar panels in Durbanville. Cape Town-based solar energy company AWPower managing director Christiaan Hattingh said more solar power installations were inevitable. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Residential solar panels in Durbanville. Cape Town-based solar energy company AWPower managing director Christiaan Hattingh said more solar power installations were inevitable. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Mar 11, 2022

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Cape Town - Eskom’s load shedding has people again scrambling for alternative energy sources, but with fuel prices escalating, the demand for solar power could skyrocket.

Solar energy company Alumo Energy’s managing director, Rein Henkemans, said: “Rising tariffs and the decreasing reliability of supply has left many consumers with little choice but to consider other energy solutions, especially with many households still working from home – which is where solar systems can play a significant role.”

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Cape Town-based solar energy company AWPower managing director Christiaan Hattingh said more solar power installations were inevitable with Eskom warning that its system would likely remain constrained for the near future.

Henkemans said rapidly escalating oil prices also limited the cost benefits of other alternatives such as generators, which seemed cheaper in the short-term but carried expenses that quickly add up over time.

“Solar systems are able to deliver steady and reliable power for the lifetime of the system after the once-off upfront costs have been paid, or at a fair monthly fee when renting. In the long term, this offers a far more cost-effective option for keeping the lights on, and works to enhance the overall value of your property,” Henkemans said.

Based in Cape Town, Canadian Solar South Africa business development director Wido Schnabel said regardless of Eskom, the environment or people’s pockets, a transition to renewable energy just made sense because it was the most affordable and reliable source of energy in the country.

Schnabel said initial solar systems for households and small businesses cost about R20 000. However, this cost would mean more stability and have increased long-term value.

Hattingh said: “Many businesses and homeowners like the idea of solar power, but worry about the capital costs. However, you can start small and grow your solar installation, so that you are using less grid power and bringing your electricity bill down over time.”

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