The time has come for South Africa to reconsider how energy is supplied and to evolve and adapt its outdated systems, says the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA).
SAWEA said in a release on Thursday that the country should start shifting away from a centralised monopoly to a more efficient, decentralised generation model, which includes small-scale embedded generation (SSEG).
“There is a global shift away from large centralised utilities to decentralised power generation that is closer to the consumption point and minimises system losses. This also opens opportunities for private sector participation in the energy generation business, which introduces competition into the electricity generation market in the interest of price reductions,” said SAWEA board member and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research energy centre group leader Ntombifuthi Ntuli.
She highlighted that renewable energy independent power producers had the ability to raise finance to develop smaller projects that reach commercial operation in an average of 24 months, which is far quicker than building new coal-fired power stations.
Additionally, renewable energy projects contribute to a reduction in carbon emissions and water consumption.
However, Ntuli pointed out that a foreseeable downside to the connection of SSEG projects could be their impact on the distribution network. “If not planned properly, the integration of SSEG projects could pose systems operation challenges in the long run.”
Further, she said there should not be issues with adding SSEG projects to the grid, as the current draft Integrated Resource Plan had allocated 2 600 MW for embedded generation.