eskom losing revenue to solar

Potential loss of R80 billion for Eskom as South Africans choose solar

Last Updated: January 18, 2024By

Solar energy is booming in South Africa, with installed rooftop solar on business and residential properties more than doubling last year (108% year on year growth). We’re now enjoying energy from the Sun that generates about 5.04 GWp (gigawatt peak) per year, up from 2.4 GWp from the previous year.

A recent article by The Citizen highlights that Eskom, South Africa’s ailing national power supplier, will potentially lose R80 billion to South Africans choosing solar energy to keep the lights on.

Independent economic and energy analyst Tshepo Kgadima said that in the past financial year, Eskom went from selling 193 terawatt hours to 160 terawatt hours, which led to a loss of over R70 billion.

This is hardly surprising as South Africans have been forced to find alternatives due to ongoing loadshedding.

The increase in electricity tariffs and the decreasing cost to install solar means that for many South Africans who can afford it, solar is a very sensible solution.

Our own solar experience has been superb, without a single day without power at our home since installation more than a year ago.

The reality for most who have installed solar is that there is still some reliance on Eskom, since going totally off-grid is a much larger investment. As a result, energy use from the grid spikes at night.

And despite promises from government, there is no feed-in tariff in Gauteng and many other areas. As a result, a massive amount of energy from the installed rooftop solar cannot go anywhere and is wasted (unless stored in additional batteries). For us, our solar panels are mostly idle for the peak sunlight hours because the battery is full and there is nowhere for the excess solar energy to be stored.

Since many people have solar-charged batteries like we do, they use this energy at night. This means Eskom makes less revenue at night since night-time demand is lower.

It will be interesting to see what happens with loadshedding after the upcoming elections. An increase in loadshedding will result in another boom in solar in South Africa and there are still many rooftops without solar panels, so the potential for the industry is massive.

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About the Author: Tony Lopes

Tony is the founder and editor of CleanVolts.co.za. He has completed solar certifications and courses through Green Solar Academy. Tony's goal is to see solar panels on every roof-top in South Africa and the adoption of EVs and renewable technology across the African continent.

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