Opinion: Changing one number, in one piece of legislation, can change South Africa’s destiny, in one day
26TH AUGUST 2020
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*In this opinion piece, South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) Grid Access Working Group chairperson Daniel Goldstuck, writes about a possible solution to South Africa
What if I told you that our energy
Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? But, as a professional, with almost a decade of experience working in the energy
Every individual across South Africa
Well there is just one single change that Mineral Resources
So what is that change?
It is to move the current exemption from licensing from 1 MW to 10 MW for energy
Currently, 1 MW can supply a small mall, while 10 MW at the higher end is suitable to feed into a mine or industrial
The Electricity Regulatory Act of 2006 governs the various stakeholders of the electricity supply industry, and regulates participation in the form of licensed activities. One such licensed activity is the generation of electricity, which requires a generation licence.
Currently, generation capacity below 1 MW of power
This is an arbitrary limit set as a policy decision, and has no technical basis.
Operators working in both renewable and traditional energy
On March 26, the Minister gazetted an amended version of Schedule 2 rationalising the licensing exemptions applicable to generation facilities under 1 MW. However, disappointingly the 1 MW licensing cap remained, missing a valuable opportunity to create lasting benefits to the entire electricity system
The ministry has previously expressed concerns around protection of the electricity network as well as job and Eskom revenue losses, however, these are all addressable.
Municipalities and Eskom may be concerned that allowing more generation would impact their revenue collection. As it stands, a large municipality shedding 200 MW during a load-shedding event costs R40-million a week, or R174-million a month. Eskom has made provision for up to eight stages of load-shedding, which will result in the majority of municipalities collecting 0% revenue from most suburbs for significant periods of the day.
And when we look at job creation, those fears can also be addressed. Increasing the share of renewable energy
All data I have analysed indicates a transition to increased renewable energy
But further, in a scenario where Eskom is shedding 6 000 MW in the middle of the day, adding megawatts to the grid will have almost no impact on existing jobs, and in fact will result in greater job creation (4 MW of rooftop projects
A recent SAPVIA estimate indicates that this change in legislation, shifting the limit for exemption from 1 MW to 10 MW, would enable 2 000 MW of PV to be installed within 12 months.
In the middle of the day, this is enough to shift load-shedding by up to two stages (e.g. from Stage 4 to Stage 2, or from Stage 2 to not at all), reducing the need to run expensive diesel generation if capacity is constrained, but not yet at levels to trigger load-shedding.
This would create jobs for 15 500 site staff, and about 2 000 office-based junior and mid-management jobs. I have not yet quantified the job creation potential of related downstream manufacturing
The Minister and other stakeholders must grasp the opportunity that renewable energy
If the grid can absorb the power
Changing one number, on one piece of legislation, can deliver wins on all the levels required.