Eskom struggles and tariff hikes strengthen case for distributed generation

Date: Mar 12, 2019

Commissioned against the backdrop of volatility and uncertainty in the electricity landscape, a new study by the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) has highlighted the role that distributed generation renewable energy (DG-RE) could play in the South African electricity market.

The study, which was launched on Monday, examined 14 scenarios in five different South African municipalities.

The study found that wind and solar systems embedded in distribution networks could reduce the load on municipalities, lower the price of electricity, prevent electrical interruptions, reduce losses and provide an effective and efficient contribution to resolving South Africa’s power crisis.

“Within the current regulatory environment, improvements in renewable energy technology and falling prices are not reaching consumers directly and quickly enough and it is within this context that the report should be considered,” said SAWEA CEO Brenda Martin.

Distributed generation refers to a variety of technologies that generate electricity at, or near, where it will be used, such as solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, wind and combined heat and power and may, or may not, make use of existing electricity infrastructure for distribution to customers.

“Distributed generation can directly serve loads behind-the-meter as we have seen increasingly in South Africa over the past years, but they can also make use of existing public network infrastructure to supply offtakers that are not colocated with the energy plant. This type of scheme presents a number of advantages at various levels, and this is what we wanted to better understand through the study,” SAWEA technical working group chairperson Kevin Minkoff explained.

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