Hindsight shows us how we could have saved R30 Billion in capital cost and countless billions in ongoing costs for the next 20 years as we acknowledge that it is seldom that one witnesses a win-win-win-win (politicians-voters-environment-country) situation… except in this case!
As we cannot claw back the R150 Billion that Eskom’s coal powered Medupi is estimated to cost I propose that our politicians immediately spend another R150 Billion on power generation but do so utilising a completely different method that will result in a win-win-win-win situation.
According to a report in the Sunday Times (and as most naysayers know), South Africans can expect new rounds of power blackouts as Eskom struggles to meet the country’s electricity demand.
Eskom said that the possibility of load shedding depended on whether “the open cycle gas turbines could keep adding 2000MW of power a day to the grid”.
Eskom missed its deadline of 24 December 2014 to synchronize unit 6 at the new Medupi power station to the national grid.
In a press statement on 2 January 2015, Eskom said that the “first unit of the Medupi power station (namely, unit 6) is close to first synchronisation”.
“However, the only step necessary before finally admitting steam to the turbine is to clean the boiler and associated pipework from all scale, welding residue and contaminants, arising from the construction process.”
Media reports say that the Medupi power station likely to cost us between R145bn and R150bn, which is considerably higher than Eskom’s initial estimate. At the price of R150bn for a 4 764 megawatt station, which equates to R31.4m a megawatt, Medupi will be one of the most expensive coal-fired power stations in the world.
Now about that 20/20 hindsight thing – here is where Eskom could have saved the country and 952 800 households a considerable amount of money:
If Eskom had taken that R150 Billion and used it to install 5 Kilowatt Grid Tie Solar Panels on 952 800 household roofs they would have succeeded in generating 4 674 megawatts of power for a price of R119 Billion – which is considerably less than the final estimate cost for Medupi. *
This would have benefited the country by:
- effectively giving 952 800 households free electricity
- many of the households would feed excess electricity into the grid
- coal and other natural resources would be preserved
- South Africa would be well on it’s way to becoming carbon negative
Of course there is enough fat built into the Solar Panel plan to make any politician rub his/her fat sweaty hands with glee:
- The potential to ‘buy’ the votes of 952 800 households by finally providing free electricity (as promised in many manifestos)
- One could comfortably add R6 400 (see below) to the price of each Kilowatt to allow for ‘palm greasing’ and ‘hidden taxes’
- Of course an order of his magnitude would place an extreme downward pressure of the costs of Solar Panels and Inverters which would free up more opportunities for ‘jobs for pals’ as well as more fat for ‘palm greasing’.
- The electorate (or at least 952 800 households) wouldn’t give a toss as they would be getting the ultimate long term ‘palm greasing’ of them all – free electricity for at least 20 years!
Other factors to be considered:
- Grid Tie Solar does not free one completely from the grid so loadshedding still affects these installations
- The only Metropolitan Municipality currently allowing Grid Tie Solar on a One for One basis is the electricity tariff area covered by the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality which stretches from Gamtoos to Coega (in 1-1 every unit generated by the household is credited against the consumption account, i.e. if the cost of electricity to the householder is R1.80 per Kilowatt hour then the credit to the householder equals R1.80).
- Some households will consume more than 5 Kilowatts and some less
- During nightime the households will consume and feed back back during the day.
- Households will continue paying for ‘availability’ – still giving Eskom and their agents monthly recurring income
- Grid Tie offers the simplest and lowest maintenance option to householders wanting to eradicate their monthly consumption accounts
- Householders can monitor the electricity generation efforts from their solar panel installations online.
- Certain Grid Tie inverters now come with a 10 year guarantee.
- No inverter may feed power back into the grid when the electricity supply is off (i.e. during times of load shedding.
* My figures are based on the following:
- Medupi will generate 4 764 Megawatts or 4 764 000 Kilowatts
- The average suburban home needs a 5 Kilowatt Solar Panel installation to match it’s current electricity consumption
- 4 674 000 Kilowatts (the amount to be generated by Medupi) / 5 Kilowatts (an average suburban home’s requirements) = 952 800 (the number of homes required)
- A Grid Tie Solar Panel installation is the cheapest way of going green and will cost around R25 000.00 per Kilowatt excluding VAT and municipal tie in costs.
- At a price per Kilowatt of R31 400.00 the cost of 952 800 Solar Panel Installations will equal the estimated cost of Medupi.
Read More about Grid Tie Solar here: www.Solar.Straton.org.za
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