Archive

Net-metering in South Africa

Energise May 2012.

In the USA, as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, under Sec. 1251, all public
electric utilities are now required to make available upon request net metering to
their customers:
‘‘(11) Net Metering – Each electric utility shall make available upon request net
metering service to any electric consumer that the electric utility serves. For purposes
of this paragraph, the term ‘net metering service’ means service to an electric
consumer under which electric energy generated by that electric consumer from
an eligible on-site generating facility and delivered to the local distribution facilities
may be used to offset electric energy provided by the electric utility to the
electric consumer during the applicable billing period. ”

A is clearly still way behind the USA in this regard. It is difficult to understand why
this is so in the light of the very substantial contribution that can be made by a well-
coordinated programme of home and commercial on-roof PV systems with net
metering. Especially now that PV modules are available for prices as low as 0,55
to 0,85 Euros/W in South Africa (at the kilowatt scale. That is @ 550 to 850 Euros
per kW wholesale. Obviously much more at retail prices – especially when the
costs of inverters and installation etc are included). A good system of 1 kW should
deliver around 150 to 170 kWh per month in most of South Africa. As many homeowners pay around R1 per kWh today, and Eskom costs rise much faster than inflation, such a system will pay for itself rather quickly, while saving Eskom the exorbitant cost of building new power stations, which cost much more (per kWh delivered) than home PV systems when implemented at scale.

(Editorial note by Mike Rycroft of Energize: The IRP 2010, under Para 6.15 and 6.16 dealing with policy and facilitation, states the following :

6.15 Net metering, which allows for consumers to feed energy they produce into the grid and offset this energy against consumed energy, should be considered for all consumers (including residential and commercial consumers) in order to realise the benefits of distributed generation. The impact of such a policy on subsidies needs to be considered.

6.16 The IRP should not limit activities behind the meter where consumers take up energy efficiency and other measures to improve their demand exposure, inclusive of co-generation and residential/commercial PV. Similarly the IRP should not be
restrictive in terms of own generation. Mike Rycroft.)

Eskom cites its build program as the reason why it needs such inflation-driving price
increases. They can easily be avoided by facilitating net metering – at a huge cost
saving for everyone!

I was just told by a former Eskom engineer that allowing net metering introduces the following safety issue for electricians: they need to make sure that not only the connection to Eskom (or the municipality) is disconnected (typically at the main switch or other circuit breaker). But in case someone is feeding his own surplus PV or wind-generated electricity into the grid, the electrician (who may also be working for the municipality or Eskom somewhere remote from the on-roof PV system) must also disconnect this source to make certain that the line he works on is truly safe and “dead”.

So the training or protocols of electricians clearly need to be updated. I do not see how this can be a major cost factor – certainly not in any way comparable to the cost to the country of Eskom’s economy-destroying price increases.
“The article “Rooftop Solar PV, and Awakening Giant” on p 58 – 61 of Jan/Feb issue of Energize has an excellent account of the rlevant issues.”
Regards
Dr. Bernhard Scheffler

4 Comments

Click here to post a comment

Leave a Reply

  • Hi Dr Bernhard, I am doing some test with solar panels and the idea of feeding back into the grid.
    To overcome the safety aspect for the electricians working on the grid, it is very easy to install a small relay circuit that disconnects the solar system from the grid as soon as the electricity from your supplier goes off. A circuit like this shoud be a must when feeding back to the grid.
    Regards, Jacques van Delft jacques@bloemwater.co.za

  • Hi Dr Bernhard, I am doing some test with solar panels and the idea of feeding back into the grid.
    To overcome the safety aspect for the electricians working on the grid, it is very easy to install a small relay circuit that disconnects the solar system from the grid as soon as the electricity from your supplier goes off. A circuit like this shoud be a must when feeding back to the grid.
    Regards, Jacques van Delft jacques@bloemwater.co.za

WP Twitter Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com