Can Sungrow Curb South Africa’s Energy Crisis?


From the arid desert of the Northern Cape to the lush hills of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa is a country with its own unique energy challenges. The country relies heavily on coal-fired power stations that produce an abundance of carbon dioxide and other pollutants. This has resulted in an increasingly dire situation for air quality. Meanwhile, electricity prices are amongst some of the highest in Africa, leaving many households struggling to keep up with their bills.

Solar energy could offer a viable solution to recent energy issues in South Africa. Generating solar power has become much more efficient and cost-effective in recent years. This means that they can generate substantial amounts of electricity while also significantly reducing carbon emissions. In addition, solar panels are relatively low maintenance and allow individuals and businesses to reduce their dependence on grid electricity.

The cause of the energy crisis

The need to switch to renewable energy in South Africa has gone from an environmental issue to a political one as their energy crisis becomes critical. Badly maintained and neglected power stations continues to cripple the country with power outages. As such, the country’s leader, President Cyril Ramaphosa, even declared South Africa’s energy crisis a “state of disaster”.

Since 2007, the country has been subjected to national blackouts on a scheduled basis known as “load shedding”. Power is reduced or cut off completely in one area to serve another for an allotted amount of time. These power cuts last up to 12 hours at a time, causing widespread panic and disruption. Unfortunately, the extent of this practice, twinned with people and businesses being unaware of when this will ever end, has sent the country into a downward spiral toward civil and political turmoil.

Pushing for renewable energy

South Africa is well-placed for different types of renewable energy; hours of sunshine, strong winds, and tidal power. It seems a waste not to be making good use of all of these naturally occurring, energy generators. In 2020, the government decided to gradually make the energy transition. The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy launched the Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (RMIPPPP).

Image: Sungrow

The main objective of RMIPPPP is to give investors and local businesses the opportunity to be part of the journey. Using Power Purchase Agreements, the government hopes to get the private sector on board by offering them the installation of solar panels or wind turbines on their business premises.

Answering the current energy crisis

Sungrow is a leading solar inverter producer specializing in hybrid energy storage solutions and solar inverters for residential and commercial customers. They are helping one of Africa’s largest independent power projects by supplying their 1-X Modular Inverter, with the help of the SOLA Group. This will power five facilities that produce titanium dioxide used in solar panel production. The material is an excellent semiconductor and it absorbs UV light while allowing visible light to pass through. It is also environmentally friendly.

In 2022, Sungrow installed their SG110CX commercial inverter on the rooftop of the Cornubia Mall in South Africa. With a DC capacity of 5.25MWp, this solution will reduce emissions, greatly improve energy usage, and bring down the cost of running the mall. The company also supplied a PowerStack battery for the mall to have an energy storage facility. This will constitute between 500kWh to 400MWh, giving between 2 and 4 hours of decarbonized energy. These batteries are used in the absence of solar energy. The plan is to now push these solutions out for residential use, switching them to clean, affordable, renewable energy.

Once businesses and households switch to renewable energy, the country won’t need load shedding. The expectation is they will effectively be creating and using their own energy supply. Meanwhile, unused energy will be fed back into the grid. A win-win situation for everyone and hopefully a way to end the current energy crisis in South Africa. “We expect a long-term sustainable, reliable, and accessible energy supply in the near future. Sungrow is well-prepared with a local team offering responsive and professional services to illuminate South Africa’s energy future,” concluded Phyllis Yang, Head of Sungrow, South Africa.

Photo credit: The images used are owned by Sungrow and have been provided for press usage.
Source: PR Newswire

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Katherine Hames
Katherine Hames
Tech Journalist
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