While we South Africans remember the inconvenience of being without power at home, the stress and worry of power outages at work, and the dread of being powerless in general, we still haven’t properly prepared ourselves for the future. We take it for granted that our electricity demands are being met. For the moment.
Renewable energy is a clean energy source, but like everything else, it has its advantages and its disadvantages. Renewable energy is sustainable, so it never runs out. It’s also good for the environment, emitting little to no greenhouse gases or air pollution, and because it’s energy is derived from available natural resources it also requires less maintenance. It sounds amazing. But what about the disadvantages? Renewable energy relies on the weather. Solar collectors need sunshine to collect heat to make electricity, wind turbines need wind to turn the blades, and hydro generators need rain to fill dams (and this is South Africa, we’re in the middle of a water crisis, too).
With people struggling to keep up with the ever- increasing electricity tariffs, an alternate energy source is something South Africa desperately needs. Before we make a purchase, the first thing we look at is affordability. Is solar power something we want to invest in? Initially, the cost of production and installation are high, but long term? Since you’ll be using electricity generated by your solar system, or your renewable energy resource, your electricity bill will drop. Just take a moment and think about how often you buy electricity, and how much it costs. South Africa has one of the highest solar resources in the world, so besides the initial costs, you don’t really need to spend anything.
The ongoing energy crisis in South Africa seems to have no end in sight. With Eskom’s annual electricity price increase, renewable energy seems to be the best long term solution available to us.