Solar Power in South Africa

The future of power in South Africa is brilliant and bright, brimming with new possibilities where natural resources are being used to power our world. 

Power is now being made by converting sunlight into direct current electricity and it is a new and innovative way of thinking that turns invention into sustainable living. There is a definitive commitment to harnessing the power of renewable energy to transform the lives of millions of South Africans – it is time to say hello to affordable energy today. 

South Africa is the most southern country in Africa and the 25th largest by land area. At present, wind power is delivering in the region of 960 MW to the power grid and solar power has a total of 2 292 MW solar photovoltaic capacity. 

One of the biggest renewable energy projects in South Africa is a 12-billion-rand solar farm situated in the Northern Cape and is now live. 

Engie, the company responsible for this plant, claims that this solar farm is achieving a commercial operation of 100 MW solar in the Northern Cape – one of the largest renewable energy projects. The project which is situated in Kathu will provide clean and reliable energy to 179 000 homes in the local community of the John Taolo Gaetsewe District Municipality, to the Northern Cape and South Africa.   

Interesting facts 

  • R12 billion was secured to finance this project 
  • The project created 12000 jobs 
  • The Kathu Solar Park will save six million tons of CO2 over a twenty-year period 
  • Kathu’s Molten Salt storage design guarantees clean energy solutions and has been created to overcome the intermittency of renewable energy 
  • The solar plant covers 4.5 square kilometres with 384,000 mirrors 
  • It makes use of patented parabolic trough technology 
  • The curved solar panels track the movement of the sun 
  • It then stores the energy in a molten salt storage system that will allow the plant to keep producing electricity 4.5 hours steadily in the absence of solar radiation 

Some of the important solar farms found is SA: 

  • Coega Wind Farm in Coega situated near Port Elizabeth within the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality and was the very first wind farm built in SA 
  • Darling Wind Farm – one of the first two wind farms in SA which is located close to Cape Town 
  • Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm which can be found on the outskirts of the coastal town of Jeffreys Bay in the Eastern Cape 
  • Gouda Wind Facility in the Western Cape just outside the town of Gouda
  • Sere Wind Farm in the Western Cape 

Solar energy, as with all other renewable energies, is very safe and environmentally friendly. There are no emissions as the source of fuel is the sun, unlike coal-powered facilities. 

How does a UPS System Work

There are two main types of UPS systems that are used in today’s technologically advanced world. They are Standby Ups systems and Continuous UPS systems. 

Standby UPS systems 

A standby UPS system runs the computers and other electrical equipment off the usual utility power until an issue occurs. When this happens, it is fast (in the region of five milliseconds and sometimes even s=less). The UPS system turns on a power inverter and runs the electrical device off the UPS battery. 

The power inverter will convert the DC power from the battery into AC power. The battery charger continuously produces DC power, which the inverter continuously turns back into AC power – quite simply put, if the power fails, the battery provides power to the inverter. 

Your UPS system usually protects an electrical device, such as a computer, against four different power challenges 

  • Voltage hikes – this happens when the voltage on the line is greater than it should be 
  • Voltage sags - when the voltage on the line is less than it ought to be 
  • Complete power failure - when a line goes down or a fuse blows somewhere on the grid or in the building 
  • Frequency instability – when the power wavers 

Continuous UPS systems 

  • With a Continuous UPS system, the computer is continuously running off the battery power, plus the battery is unceasingly being recharged 
  • The battery power will provide power uninterruptedly to a converter with a Continuous UPS system  
  • There is no switch-over time in a continuous UPS 
  • This setup is brilliant as it provides a very stable source of power  

Standby UPS systems are far more common for domestic use and small to medium enterprises because they are easy on the pocket – more so than Continuous UPS systems, although Continuous systems deliver clean, stable power, so they tend to be used in server rooms and other critical applicationsthis is particularly important with the grid being as unstable as it has been for the past couple of years. 


Hydroelectricity South Africa

South Africa has moderate hydroelectric power – this is according to the experts. The establishment of small hydroelectric projects dotted around the country could in all probability assist in providing a sustainable energy supply in the future. 

There are in the region of about 6 000 to 8 000 potential sites for hydroelectricity in the country below 100 MegaWatts; KwaZulu Natal and the Eastern Cape are the best options for these projects, though. 

  • The Drakensberg Pumped-Storage Facility is the largest hydroelectric plant within the borders of South Africa – water is brought from the Tugela River in the Vaal watershed to this power plant 
  • South Africa’s second-largest plant is situated on the Palmiet River which is just outside Cape Town 

At present, South Africa’s electricity supplier, Eskom, buys power from Mozambique’s Cahora Basa plant, jointly owned by the Mozambican and Portuguese governments which are situated in Mozambique’s western Tete province. 

Eskom is Cahora Basa’s chief customer; power bought from Cahora Basa supplements Eskom’s largely coal-driven electricity supply, which is resold to numerous countries across Africa. 

Hydroelectric plants in South Africa include: 

  • Tubatse Pumped Storage Scheme in the Limpopo Province (Roossenekal) – this project is on hold for now, and was referred to as Project Lima previously 
  • Ingula Pumped Storage Scheme in Kwa-Zulu Natal 
  • Drakensberg Pumped Storage Scheme in the Free State province 
  • Gariep Dam in the Free State on the Eastern Cape border 
  • The Palmiet Pumped Storage Scheme in the Western Cape 
  • Steenbras Power Station (Pumped storage) – Western Cape 
  • Vanderkloof Dam – Northern Cape 
  • Colley Wobbles Power Station – Eastern Cape 
  • Ncora Dam – Ncora Power Station situated in the Eastern Cape 
  • Sol Plaatjie Power Station in Bethlehem in the Free State 
  • Merino Power Station in the Free State in Bethlehem 

All the above hydroelectricity plants are operational at present, bar Tubatse.  

15 No-cost Ideas to Save Power

Electricity is expensive – make no bones about it. The secret is to save wherever you can without it costing you anything. It is time to think smart and to think out of the box so that you can put money back into your bank account instead of forking out more each month. 

Here are fifteen smart (and small), inexpensive ways to save on your power bill 

  • Turn off those unnecessary lights – switching off lights an extra couple of hours a day can save you over the long haul – it is time to switch to LED lighting 
  • Use task lighting – using side and table lamps, track lighting and under-counter lights instead of ceiling lights will go a long way to saving power 
  • Hot water costs money – cutting shower and bath time will save you substantially 
  • Always switch off taps when brushing teeth, washing hands or shaving – by reducing your hot water usage you can cut costs  
  • Always unplug unused electrical devices – did you know that standby power can account for up to 10% of an average household’s annual electricity use? Always unplug unused electronics  
  • You don’t need the air conditioner to run while you are not in the room or not at home. Switch this off always 
  • Recycle or donate your old desktop computer and invest in a more energy-efficient laptop model 
  • It is time to declutter – start off by getting rid of your old TV a huge energy consumer 
  • Switch off your geyser when you are not using it and only switch in on an hour before you need to bath or shower, and by lowering your thermostat by as little as two degrees you will save up to 5% on your electricity bill 
  • Block the sun from windows during the hot summer months – choose sun-filtered blinds in very hot climates 
  • During the hot summer months choose to make a barbeque (braai), salads and other fresh meals. Not only will you be a lot healthier, but will save you considerably in power bills 
  • Ensure your washing machine loads are always full and washed in cold water 
  • Using a tumble dryer is a huge energy devourer – not only will your clothes smell delightful when hung out in the sunshine, it will save you plenty of electricity. A tumble dryer is one of the biggest energy eaters in the home 
  • Your fridge and freezer should always be at the right temperature. During very hot spells try not to open the fridge unnecessarily 
  • Instead of using the oven, choose to use a griller, electric frying pan, toaster, rotisserie and microwave; a microwave takes 15 minutes to do the same job as 1 hour in an oven. Use a microwave instead of your oven at least four times a week 

There are many ways to save money in the home – the small things will save big in the long haul.