Go solar and save

Cape Town – It could be time for households to examine alternative forms of energy after Eskom was given permission on Wednesday to raise electricity prices next year above the 8% previously granted.

The adjustment should enable Eskom to recover R7.8bn in revenue from consumers after its costs exceeded projections between 2010-2013, said the National Energy Regulator (Nersa).

Eskom wanted to increase earnings by R18.4bn.

According to Gareth Warner, Managing Director at Solarcentury Africa, this is good news for those already using solar power - and for those considering it – in that the more expensive grid electricity gets, the more cost-effective and affordable solar power becomes.

"This is because the pay-back period becomes shorter, giving end users a better return on investment."

Warner said installing a 3.5kWp solar system would typically cost about R70 000, adding about R650 (7.50% interest) to the homeowner’s bond repayments each month.

The average household uses about 30kWh per day, while the average yield of such a system is about 20kWh per day and slightly less on overcast days. Therefore, at rates of about R1.43/kWh, the owner would save about R686 per month.

Sola Future Energy, a leader in solar energy in South Africa provides a calculator on its site that can assist with determining the savings you would make if you went off the Eskom grid and utilised solar, or even fed energy back into the Eskom grid.

For example, a household with 100 square metres with a high-consumption tariff of R1.65 per unit would save R17 871 per year, recouping the R120 060 capital in three years.

For the commercial sector, solar PV systems offer an attractive internal rate of return (IRR), especially considering solar electricity is free after the initial payback period, presenting an effective cost-saving alternative, said Warner.

In addition, it’s much easier to budget for the monthly solar PV system instalments rather than digging deeper into company profits to pay for fluctuating and unpredictable energy bills.

Solar also offers businesses a way to cut their carbon emissions and reduce their environmental impact. Further, reducing reliance on the grid by using solar electricity to meet part of their energy needs means that businesses will be less impacted by the continuous electricity price rises or the impending carbon tax.

 - Fin24

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