Eskom renewables incentive programme likely to be extended to residential sector

Submitted by: Margaret McKenzie, Monday, October 29, 2012

The existing Eskom incentive for small scale renewable energy installations that is currently available to business customers is very likely to be extended to residential customers said Andrew Etzinger of Eskom speaking at the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) convention in Cape Town.

Etzinger, Senior General Manager of Demand Side Management at Eskom, said that since the existing incentive had been so successful the likelihood of a roll out to the residential sector was very high.  The existing incentive is provided under the Eskom standard offer programme and pays R1.20 per kWh provided by the renewable energy installation over a three year period.  The electricity generated by the installation must replace electricity that would have been previously drawn down from the grid.

When the incentive was first announced it had a target of supporting 10 MWs of renewable energy projects of between 10 kW and 1 MW in size.   Recently NERSA has approved doubling the size of the programme from 10MW to 20MW said Etzinger.  

At the  GBCSA convention Etzinger presented on the way forward for renewable energy and energy efficiency in South Africa.   In his presentation Etzinger predicted that LED lights would start to dominate the energy efficient lighting space and that recovery of waste heat will start to be adopted more widely in the industrial sector.     He also indicated that the existing residential mass roll out programme is likely to grow even bigger and would eventually provide support for energy monitoring equipment in homes.  

Etzinger said that he hoped zero net energy buildings would be adopted in South Africa in the future.   A key feature of zero net energy buildings would be a component of on-site electricity generation that would use the grid as a battery.   Etzinger indicated that allowing excess electricity to be generated onto the grid presented some technical challenges to grid operators that still needed to be ironed out.  

Speaking to Urban Earth after the presentation Etzinger indicated that he believed that it would take approximately two years before it would be possible for small scale generators to export electricity onto the grid on a wide scale.  The two major issues that he identified as needing to be addressed before this was possible were selecting appropriate technologies for grid-tie installations and finalising tariffs for customers to sell electricity back onto the grid.  He emphasised that municipalities also need to be involved in the process of facilitating generation onto the grid as many existing users connect through municipal grids.


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Margaret McKenzie