Catching the sun

Showing SA how to save money

Harvesting solar energy will be very important, as traditional energy sources become more costly

Increasing electricity costs are forcing South Africans to embrace alternative renewable energy sources – and solar power is top on the list. It's more economical and it's green. 

With millions of South Africans affected every year by electricity price hikes, SolarWorld Africa offers an alternative renewable energy source in the form of solar power for use across residential, commercial and agricultural installations.

Residential installations

Homeowners can today pay as little as 65c/kWh for the next 25 years by producing solar power from their own rooftop. In comparison, the cost of the power utility provider is between R1.20 and R1.40/kWh with electricity tariffs constantly rising.

A basic 1.44kWp system consisting of six 240W SolarWorld Sun modules and one solar inverter with accessories, installed under standard conditions (residential plot with a 30 degree pitch and north-facing roof) will cost the end consumer R36 000 incl VAT.

The system comes with a 25 year linear performance guarantee and the price of this standard system has been calculated without financing costs.

With a residential grid-tied solar energy system, energy is generated during the day and is used as it is produced.

The morning period allows for 100% of consumption to be generated from the solar power system, covering all the house’s energy needs.

The solar modules produce direct current from daylight. The solar inverter converts direct current  generated by the solar cells to grid compatible alternating current.

At night when the system no longer produces energy, the consumer acquires energy from the grid.

Commercial and agricultural installations

For business owners in the commercial and agricultural sectors a 50.4kWp system consisting of 210-240W SolarWorld SunModules and three STP17 000 inverters with accessories can be installed at a cost of R957 600 excl VAT.

Under standard installation conditions a yield of 88 200kWh per year can be expected for the 50.4kWp system.

Business owners can pay as little as 50c/kWh for the next 25 years by installing a basic 50.4kWp system, in comparison to a cost of between R1.20 and R1.40/kWh charged by the power utility provider.

As an example the system installation at Impahla clothing factory in Maitland, Western Cape, provides for 25% of the company’s annual energy requirements.

This allows Impahla to reduce its reliance on coal-based electricity and to introduce environmentally-friendly production processes. Commissioned in March 2011, the system has thus far generated 24 566.68 kWh [24.6 MWh] with carbon savings of 23.6 tons to date.

Further, the Dube Tradeport AgriZone near the King Shaka airport, with its ambitions of being a "green hub" in KwaZulu-Natal has installed solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roof of two of the AgriZone pack houses to supplement the energy requirements of these facilities.

The first phase, commissioned in November 2011 is a 218kWp installation, while the second phase, to be completed by November, is a 430kWp installation. 

Ultimately the 2 848 solar panels will cover an area of about 4 700m2 and give a total output of 630kWp.

It is one of the first systems to be granted permission to be connected to the eThekwini municipal grid.

Once completed this system will be the largest roof-top mounted solar PV system in South Africa.

Looking at the cost of between R1.20 and R1.40/kWh by the power utility provider in comparison to paying 50c/kWh for a basic 50.4kWp system or 65c/kWh for a 1.44kWp system, one can see that going green is not only an environmentally friendly option but also saves money as electricity tariffs are consistently rising.

In fact, grid parity has come and gone, with solar energy being the cheaper option over time.


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Issue 68