Many African nations, from East, west, north to south are joining in on the booming solar power sector. Grid-connected solar PV development and off-grid systems are increasing rapidly on the continent, where the sun almost always shines. Corporations in South Africa are moving away from Eskom's coal-fired power to more greener and sustainable sources.
The highly mandated push toward renewables relates to organizations reducing carbon emissions, while achieving sustainable development goals. Leading investors and businesses are betting on the sector, due to strong growth forecasts, reliable returns and government regulations allowing easier access to create avenues for implementation. Solar has become one of the most cost-competitive, quick to deploy and fastest-growing energies globally.
The state-owned science research agency reported in its annual statistics on power generation in South Africa for 2021, that includes all utility-scale generation technologies – coal, nuclear, hydro, solar PV, wind, concentrated solar power (CSP), pumped storage and diesel-fueled open-cycle gas turbines (OCGTs). Despite an increase in the contribution from renewable energy sources in 2021, last year overtook 2020 as the most intensive year of load shedding to date, according to the agency.
In 2021, load shedding occurred for 1 169 hours – about 13% of the time. “In 2021, the total system demand increased by 6.5 terawatt-hours, a 3% increase compared to the 2020 total system demand,” the CSIR said in a statement. “The 2021 total system demand is, however, still lower by 5.3TWh, a 2% decrease, when compared to 2019, pre-lockdown.”
Although environmental concerns and the reductions of CO2 emission rank high on the renewable energy agenda, many organizations are helping change the narrative, by moving to solar power in a bid to be independent from Eskom's unpredictable energy grid management. Producing power independently creates the type of resilience that the continent and many businesses need in order to continue economic activity to create jobs and drive generation capacity, by relieving the electricity grid for the rest of the country and therefore reducing the risk of load shedding.
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