South Africa’s energy future: the state of renewable energy in 2023
Last year proved troubling for South Africa’s energy landscape.
The country’s energy demand consistently outweighed supplies as the government failed to counteract the effects of the ageing coal plants with enough renewable energy schemes, resulting in record-high load shedding.
However, promising seeds were sown throughout 2022 — with many organisations noticing the benefits of commercial and residential energy storage, and president Ramaphosa’s reforms picking up speed. As a result, S&P Global Ratings confirmed its ‘positive outlook’ on the country, largely driven by fiscal improvement.
So, can we be cautiously optimistic about South Africa’s renewable energy sector this year?
Recent developments in South African solar
The Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPP) has proven effective once again, as six private renewable energy companies have signed 20-year power purchase agreements with Eskom under the scheme.
These agreements will support the development of 13 PV plants in Western Cape, Free State and Northern Cape provinces, and have a total capacity of 975 MW.
The projects gained momentum in December 2022, as the developers agreed that commercial and financial close will occur in the first half of this year ahead of the plants’ completion in early 2025.
Although it is still early days, it is clear that these plants will give the South African economy a much-needed boost. Mainstream Renewable Power, the company constructing almost half of the 13 plants, says it will help generate 1,800 jobs in construction alone — with total job opportunities expected to reach over 7,000.
Thanks to these plants, South Africa has now concluded 19 of the 25 projects it announced as part of Bid Window 5.
The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) has also announced its five preferred bidders for Bid Window 6. As it stands, these projects will add around 860 MW to the national grid (and around 1000 MW once the final bidder is secured).
It will be a while until South African citizens reap the benefits of the new PV plants, but we can remain hopeful that these projects will demonstrate the validity of solar power — and encourage its uptake across the country.
Uptake of PV systems
We cannot speak about the development of solar power in South Africa without mentioning energy storage.
Because PV systems with solar batteries allow home and business owners to hugely loosen (and even cut) their ties to the national grid, they have proven an immensely popular option for those looking to keep the power running during blackouts.
SegenSolar has proudly supplied a wide variety of PV batteries to South African citizens over the years, with one of our most popular manufacturers being Pylontech.
This company has been producing cutting-edge renewable energy storage solutions since 2009 and has amassed an industry-leading portfolio filled with exceptional residential PV batteries in this time.
The US2000C and US3000C are two much-loved batteries developed with their own lithium-ion phosphate cells for the highest possible safety value and most promising life cycle. Each product has an impressive 95% depth of discharge, and the US3000C comes with a self-designed BMS with abnormal temperature, current, voltage, SoC and SoH protection.
Another great Pylontech battery is the UP2500, a 24 V, 2.84 kWh module that performs at a 90% depth of discharge for 6,000 cycles. The UP2500 comes with a 15-year design life and is compatible with 24 V inverters from KODAK Solar Products and Victron Energy.
For even more power, Pylontech offers the UP5000 — a 48V, 4.8 kW battery with a modular design for ease of expansion and a parallel capability of up to 16 units. This model features a high usable capacity of 4,560 kWh, a 95% depth of discharge and an intelligent BMS for added system protection.