Goodbye Eskom — the true price of going totally off-grid

South Africans seeking to go 100% off-grid with no backup energy from Eskom must be conscious that it may come at an unjustifiably excessive worth.

The latest re-emergence of Stage 4 load-shedding has many individuals riled up and a few threatening (once more) to lastly kick the facility utility to the curb.

Although some households have put in backup energy merchandise to stave off load-shedding, these setups are sometimes grid-tied, which suggests they nonetheless have entry to Eskom energy when their very own programs are inadequate.

While many have grown uninterested in the utility’s dismal document in retaining the lights on, the reality is that severing ties with the utility shouldn’t be easy — or low cost.

This was highlighted by AWPower managing director and head of operations Christiaan Hattingh in an interview with MyBroadband.

Hattingh stated that whereas many is likely to be annoyed with Eskom throughout load-shedding, the truth was that grid provide supplied huge comfort and price advantages to households when load-shedding was not in impact.

To perceive why, he stated it will be prudent to revisit how residence photo voltaic programs work.

Most programs include three main elements — photovoltaic (PV) panels, batteries, and inverters.

PV panels generate electrical vitality from the solar’s gentle, which is transported to an inverter that may convert the vitality right into a type that’s useable for basic family purposes.

Excess vitality is diverted to backup battery storage for when the panels themselves can’t generate sufficient electrical energy to satisfy a family’s calls for.

PV photo voltaic panels on a roof

One of the large issues with these programs is that they’ve restricted output capability, which is decided by the inverter.

Capable, cost-effective inverters can sometimes output about 5kW or 8kW, in contrast to a single-phase family connection that may output round 13kW of grid energy on demand.

With pool and water pumps, stoves, ovens, and air conditioners which have excessive peak energy demand, backup programs can usually journey except you’re taking meticulous care in limiting your utilization at any given time.

Hattingh stated that going fully-off grid would require a radical thoughts shift the place the family turns into very acutely aware of how and after they use sure home equipment.

“If you go the off-grid route, you need to be fully committed to knowing your system and knowing what it can do,” Hattingh said.

An important start line can be monitoring programs that let you get a clearer image of your utilization habits.

AWPower gives Victron Energy inverters which include monitoring programs that make it simpler to handle your era and demand

Furthermore, whereas South Africa will get copious quantities of sunshine to generate electrical energy, it will possibly additionally expertise extended durations of overcast climate.

That can convey down the facility producing potential of a photo voltaic PV system to round 10-20% of its most capability, considerably decreasing how a lot electrical energy is pushed into the house’s electrical energy community or battery storage.

For 100% off-grid functionality, Hattingh stated it was essential to oversize your system to compensate for the fluctuation in photo voltaic availability.

“Whatever you think you need — you need more than double, triple, quadruple,” Hattingh stated.

If you want to keep it up utilizing energy with out adapting your utilization habits, giant households can count on to cough up roughly half 1,000,000 rand for an outsized off-grid system.

Rubicon chief product officer Nick Roche agreed, saying that households utilizing 1,200kWh on common per 30 days are taking a look at R727,000 excluding VAT to go utterly off-grid.

That worth additionally excludes an optionally available R25,000 generator, which comes extremely beneficial.

However, a system that may meet round 95% of your electrical energy want will price considerably much less.

Eskom’s connection service charges inside suburban areas are additionally usually not costly sufficient to justify an entire cut-off. Most clients pay round R115 per 30 days to have entry to the grid.

In circumstances the place retaining Eskom as a backup shouldn’t be an possibility or the place connection charges is likely to be exorbitant, Hattingh suggested pairing the system with a generator.

Households can use the generator to cost up the batteries on days when the daylight doesn’t present sufficient vitality to produce their residence or cost their batteries to a enough degree.

Hattingh additionally warned that having your grid connection disconnected by the distributor would make your own home troublesome to promote.

The desk beneath offers a breakdown of three potential grid-tied programs from AWPower that Hattingh beneficial for households that use a median of 600kWh, 900kWh, or 1,200kWh of electrical energy per 30 days.

Semi-off-grid backup energy choices
Average month-to-month utilization 600 kWh 900 kWh 1,200 kWh
Phase  Single-phase  Single-phase Single-phase
Inverter  1 x 5kW DEYE Hybrid Inverter  1 x 5kW DEYE Hybrid Inverter  1 x 8kW DEYE Hybrid Inverter 
  • 1 x 5.12kWh Revov R100 Li-Ion Battery  (5.12kWh @ 100%)  or
  • 1 x 7.4kWh SolarMD Advanced Li-Ion Battery (7.4kWh @ 100%)
  • 2 x 5.12kWh Revov R100 Li-Ion Battery (10.24kWh @ 100%) or
  • 1 x 14kWh SolarMD Advanced Li-Ion Battery (14kWh @ 100%)
  • 1 x 14kWh SolarMD Advanced Li-Ion Battery (14kWh @ 100%)  or
  • 3 x 5.12kWh Revov R100 Li-Ion Battery (15.36kWh @ 100%)
Excluded from price estimate Additional load-splitting if crucial Additional load-splitting if crucial Additional load-splitting if crucial
PV panel array size  4.14kWp (9 x 460W panels)  6.44kWp (14 x 460W panels) 8.28kWp (18 x 460W panels)
Est. electrical energy financial savings p/m   R1,368* R2,401* R3,283*
Payback interval   6.7 – 7.2 years  5.7 – 5.9 years 5.2 – 5.5 years
Total system price (incl. VAT) R138,481 – R152 124  R196,977 – R207,439 R241,713 – R257,529
Estimated % of energy necessities from grid and personal era Own era — 95%

Eskom grid — 5%

Own era — 98%

Eskom grid — 2%

Own era — 95%

Eskom grid — 5%

* Based on commonplace City of Cape Town residence consumer tariff of R2.40/kWh for first 600kWh and R3.31/kWh above 600kWh. Annual tariffs enhance of 9.06% is assumed for payback interval calculation.

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