South Africans installed 4.4 gigawatts of rooftop solar PV

Data shared by Eskom and Professor Anton Eberhard revealed that South African households and businesses had installed 4.4 gigawatts of rooftop solar PV.

Eberhard posted data from Eskom, which showed that the country’s installed solar rooftop PV increased from 983 MW in March 2023 to 4,412 MW in June 2023.

This 349% increase in solar rooftop PV significantly reduced the residual load that Eskom needs to meet during the day.

Eberhard said it meant less load-shedding and more available energy for Eskom to restore its pumped hydro and diesel storage.

The rapid increase in solar PV installations was expected, considering in higher stages and frequency of load-shedding over the last eighteen months.

Businesses and households were forced to invest in alternative energy solutions to keep the lights on during load-shedding.

In April, senior economist at Trade and Industrial Policy Strategies Gaylor Montmasson-Clair said South Africa imported a record R12 billion of lithium batteries in 2022.

Demand for lithium batteries in South Africa went through the roof in 2022, with imports tripling compared to 2021.

He said the data showed the number is even higher in 2023, which shows the demand for electricity backup continues to grow.

In the first quarter of 2023, South Africa imported five times as many batteries as it did in the whole of 2022.

Imports of solar panels also reached an all-time high of R3.6 billion in South Africa during the first three months of 2023.

Research from RMB Morgan Stanley also showed that electricity generated from the private sector will exceed the output from Eskom’s generation fleet by 2025.

The private sector is filling the void left by Eskom in a similar fashion to how private airlines filled the void left by the collapse of South African Airways.

In 2025, RMB estimates that Eskom will generate around 25,200MW of electricity, just over 47% of its nominal capacity.

Alternative energy sources will produce 26,600MW in 2025 – up from 13,300MW at the end of March 2023.

However, this does not mean that load-shedding will come to an end.

RMB estimates that the supply deficit will be significantly reduced but will remain around 400MW in 2025.

By 2030, even with alternative energy sources producing above 36,000MW, a shortfall of over 1,000MW will remain.

This will be predominantly due to the further deterioration of Eskom’s generating fleet.


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