PV - can create a sustainable economy in sunny South Africa
A lot of what I point out below stems from an interesting article posted in "the conversation" online version, many thanks to them.
Energy production is changing so rapidly, this by extension is having a massive effect on the way energy will be distributed into the future. The proliferation of decentralised systems is and will have an effect on how we use distribution grids in the future. This means a flexible grid needs to be created and managed, so that all forms of energy input can be accommodated and balanced.
A decentralised energy system also requires an exchange mechanism to link buyers and sellers. In South Africa, the state utility Eskom currently fulfils this role. It effectively acts as a central clearing house. It does this by buying electricity from renewable power projects, adding it to its own generated energy and selling it to consumers.
In South Africa 15.6% of the households are not connected to an electricity supply. This is unlikely to change in the near future with centralised power production because it requires major investments to extend power lines to remote communities. For these communities, having their own decentralised grid solutions holds tremendous economic potential. The development and creation of micro/independent grids would stimulate demand for solar PV and also create a counter balance to the Eskom monopoly, keeping them honest for a change. Excess energy could be sold to the national grid or to municipal clients, giving them competitive alternatives and stimulating competition.
Countries, including South Africa, which have sections of their populations not connected to the electric grid, could make the transition to decentralised electricity markets quickly.
South Africa could take advantage of the power utility’s challenges by increasing the use of technology in the rural areas and so turning sunshine into income and massive job creation.