- 1. EMBEDDED SOLAR PV GENERATION IN SOUTH AFRICA Having received many enquiries from clients wishing to connect their embedded generation systems to utilities, we identified the need to prepare a summary whereby persons could understand the principles in a nutshell. It should be noted that this document refers to both grid-tied and grid- integrated systems (whenever there is some form of connecting to the utility). Off-grid systems are not pertinently part of this discussion. At present legislation and regulations regarding embedded generation is open for interpretation. This results in uncertainty pertaining to compliance. One example is the interpretation of the “Own Use” principle as contained in Item 2 of Schedule II of the Electricity Regulation Act 4 of 2006 (“ERA”). Some utilities interpret this as meaning that a specific user is a net consumer of electricity over a certain period, say one year. Other stakeholders interpret it as meaning that no reverse flow of electricity through a meter occurs – the latter which is also referred to as “Self Consumption”. There are also perceptions in the market about what systems require licensing. In order to clarify the position, NERSA commenced a process whereby the Small Scale Embedded Generation (“SSEG”) Rules would have been issued. This process was commenced early in 2015 and would have been issued by Q3 2015. By November 2015 the DOE however took charge of this process and also intimated that a change to the ERA is considered. Both these processes are intended to get finality regarding to interpretation and processes to follow. At present these amendments / clarifications are expected to be issued by Q3 2016. • SANS10142-3 is currently being developed and would soon regulate the DC (Direct Current) aspects of wiring. The two regulations currently in place are: • The NRS097-2 regulations are applied regarding the connection of embedded generators. This currently prescribes the principles of connection and procedures for shut down of systems. • SANS10142-1 regulates the electrical wiring of premises. This applies to the AC (Alternating Current) aspects of wiring. All of these principles have safety in mind and are not intended to create unnecessary burdensome procedures. Connection and Synchronization of Embedded Generation – The Current Status Whether a System can be connected to a utility: When an embedded generation system (Solar PV, Diesel, Biogas, Wind etc.) is considered, the first question asked should be: Which utility provides the connection? Utilities in South Africa are generally Eskom and Municipal Networks, both of whom have their own rules, principles, by-laws and/or guidelines (or lack thereof) on how these system need to connect. Current Regulatory position:
- 2. www.solareff.co.za firstname.lastname@example.org +27 011 675 1114 • Eskom does not allow any synchronization of embedded generation to its LV network. An LV network is connections up to 1000V, this is due to a safety concern for technicians working on the LV network. • It is of utmost importance to understand the principle of “synchronization”. This is the use by the Solar PV system of the frequency supplied by the utility and does not imply reverse flow of power at all. • The simple answer is therefore that Eskom does not allow embedded generators to be installed at its clients’ premises when on an LV connection. • Eskom does have a process whereby clients may convert from an LV to an MV connection. This conversion is however so costly that it often adds too much to the costs of the system to remain financially viable. • An easy way to determine whether a certain site is on LV or MW is where the meter resides. If the meter is a 380-400V meter, the connection is an LV one (generally smaller connections between 15KVA – 1MVA). If the meter is a 11KV or 22KV meter, it will be an MW connection (generally larger connections >350KVA). As is evident, an overlap exists in the size of the LV and MV connections, therefore each site has to be considered on its own merits. Municipalities • Various municipalities allow the connection of embedded generation on an LV level. Many other municipalities do not as yet allow any connections of this nature and should a client connect such a system in disregard to the municipality’s principles, that client risks being completely disconnected from their electrical supply. • In instances where municipalities do allow connections: • Each municipality has its own rules, by-laws and processes to follow. • Generally the large Metropolitan municipalities have processes in place whereby embedded generation can be connected. • In most instances municipalities consider, witness and inspect these installations before allowing it to be “hot commissioned”. • Most municipalities do not accept excess generation back onto their networks. • Some municipalities do accept excess generation, with or without compensation to the client. Principles of Design: Prospective clients should start by asking their service provider about the legality of connecting to the utility. If the service provider appears allusive in any respect, caution should be exercised. Many clients have paid excessive school fees for systems that were not compliant which resulted in the client being completely disconnected from their electrical supply. When a service provider blindly refers to “turning the meter backwards” without explaining that a specialised four-quadrant meter would be installed, additional caution should be exercised. Municipalities only accept reverse flow when done through a properly approved bi-directional meter. The older mechanical-type meters could be spun in reverse, however they are not calibrated for reverse flow which results in inaccurate readings and are in any event not an approved method. In each instance the service provider should provide a detail design whereby the risk of excess generation and the possible curtailment thereof during off-peak periods are mitigated. Clients should ask prospective service providers as many questions as possible. When answers to questions of a regulatory nature are avoided or when regulatory aspects are made out as non-issues, caution should be exercised. You are most welcome to address any questions of this nature to us.
Read more here.....
Generation of renewable energy will soon be open to many through the small-scale embedded generation process. National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) has proposed small-scale embedded generation and in particular regulation around netmetering, which would effectively see small-scale generators being able to sell energy, typically produced by rooftop or ground-mounted Photovoltaic systems, back into the grid.
The regulator says privately installed small-scale roof top solar is growing in South Africa.
According to a timeline in a Nersa consultation paper, published in February this year, the regulator should have published the regulatory rules of small scale embedded generation at the end of May. This has not happened. Instead, Nersa recently issued a notice saying it was awaiting the Department of Energy to draft the licensing regulations, which would provide a policy framework for the Nersa regulatory rules to be formulated and applied.
The National Energy Regulator (NERSA) is in the process of drafting the Small-Scale Embedded Generation: Regulatory Rules. However, prior to the decision, the Energy Regulator will embark on a due process involving stakeholder consultations. As part of this process, NERSA is requesting that stakeholders comment on the issues raised in this consultation paper. The consultation paper is broken down into sections relating to the key elements/components that make up the Small-Scale Embedded Generation.
See document here.....
Despite being excluded from the government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), the past year has seen a great increase in the number of private rooftop PV systems installed on residential and commercial/industrial premises at the cost of the owners, according to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) in a new discussion document.
Under the REIPPP, provision was made only for large and small scale solar PV greater than 5MW and 1MW respectively, effectively excluding most rooftop systems. However, with falling costs for PV systems and the abundance of solar irradiation, the levelized costs of energy (LCOE) for PV is very close to the average system price of electricity. [Engerati-CSIR’s Report Points to Financial Benefits of Renewables in South Africa]
Further growth can also be expected. The Integrated Resource Plan 2010–2030 calls for 9,770MW of solar PV capacity to be installed in South Africa by 2030, but estimates are that residential and commercial PV could reach as high as 22.5GW by that date. Further, under the IRP 2010, the overall contribution of new renewable energy generation should increase to 17,800MW by 2030 (42% of all new-build generation).
Given this growth, NERSA has initiated a consultation to formulate a position on qualifying principles and the technical and economic conditions for the installation of small-scale renewables in the country’s electricity supply industry.
Qualifying technologiesWhile the primary technology that will qualify is rooftop solar PV, other technologies could include wind, biomass, landfill gas, biogas and small-hydro.
Under the Renewable Energy Grid Code, the rated power must be less than 1MW and less than the installed capacity (rating) of the customer. The generator also must be connected to the distribution network of the utility or municipality for net metering.
The aim is that the amount of electricity produced by the system primarily offsets part of the host customer’s demand. NERSA proposes that systems designed to completely offset the energy demand of the customer shall not be allowed, and the customer must still remain a net importer over a 12-month billing period (although may be a net exporter in any month).
Impacts of small-scale renewablesNERSA identifies various impacts of small-scale renewables.
• On the system, the impacts would be an absence of contribution (without storage) to peak demand reduction, and a steeper early evening load pick-up (when consumers arrive home from work). This means that at higher penetration of the PV installations, it is likely that investment would be required into a ‘dispatchable’ flexible mid-merit or peaking generation with relatively faster ramp rate that can perform in a way that allows them to handle this rapid pickup, i.e. pumped storage and gas.
• On financials, the impact would be a loss of revenue to municipalities as the suppliers, estimated at between 3% and 15%, depending on the uptake. Possible measures that could be taken to mitigate this impact include a decoupling of the tariff, with an energy charge to cover Eskom charges and the use of a fixed charge to cover distribution costs. NERSA reviews tariff options including feed-in tariff and net metering, and asks distributors to propose which one is the best to choose and easy to implement.
• On customers, the impact is likely to be steadily increasing electricity prices. Users with this type of installation should be put on a time-of-use tariff to deter them shifting their load at specific times to export maximum power. There also should be limited energy as well as export tariffs for export to the grid. Indeed NERSA goes as far as to suggest there should almost be a disincentive tariff that would encourage users to include storage in their installations rather than to export back onto the grid. With storage, peak demand would go down, so that the users are almost going off grid and are therefore not incurring extra costs on behalf of other users.
NERSA is currently collecting comments on its discussion document and expects to conduct public hearings during April. Approval of the regulatory framework is expected in May.
So is there an alternative to just waiting for Eskom to build more dirty polluting power plants?
Well actually there is!
A small number of pioneers have been testing out an alternative strategy right here in Cape Town. Foremost of these is David Lipschitz. David has proposed letting us generate the power needed for the the periods of demand right in our own homes.
Ok so it is not necesarily production, possibly more like storage, unless you add solar and wind energy generation into the mix. Which would be the next logical step, but no before going that far what we are talking about is allowing households to install inverter and battery arrays, which would charge during periods of low demand like most of the night when almost all our electricity production is wasted to the grid. Then allow these arrays to dispense electricity to the household during the periods of high demand and more importantly, as we need to identify a viable financial model, dispense excess stored electricity back into the grid during these periods of high demand and let Eskom pay these households for the electricity dispensed back into the grid at an advantaged premium say two to one for electricity provided during demand periods.
This model would mean that if a household was willing to make the investment of a inverter battery array they could be compensated for assisting with load shedding at a household level and so over time either balance out the purchased of their electricity or alternatively even repay their investment and possiblbly be motivated to extend their arrays to produce more high demand period electricity, thus enabling a viable loadshedding model that would not require rolling power failures or the need to build more power plants.
If correctly incentivised the budget that would go towards building new power plants could rather be spent on incentivising households to extend their household inverter battery arrays with wind and solar units to actually charge the inverter battery arrays without the use of grid electricity during the day and so further increase national electricity production through a cleaner and more environmentally friendly and most important renewable manor.
The Government could also offer interest free (sponsored) lease programs to businesses and homeowners for the equipment, so that if they cannot afford the cost or even a loan to raise the funds needed they could possibly afford a monthly payment that might even be negated by the income they received for the electricity fed back into the grid.If need be to further reduce the cost on these systems because batteries are so expensive and have a limited life span the Gov could incentivise companies that could manufacture and rent out batteries taking back the old batteries to refurbish.
Actually there are just so many business models around this that we might not even have thought of yet, but would inspire a whole new local industry and massive job creation opportunities for companies installing and maintaining these systems, so much more than any new power station could possibly hope to match!
This could even inspire a whole industry in SA that could become an export industry adding to GNP.
So isn't is time we petitioned our politicians to make a wiser and better informed decisions to improve our countries energy production!
Please support this petition if you agree:
DetailsWritten by Super UserCategory: Community Heros
As we write, htxt.africa’s super-secret editorial compound has just been plunged into effective darkness thanks to loadshedding. It’s back, and it’s not going anywhere. (And we’re idiots for not having charged our UPS backups, we know.)
At times like this, we often ask ourselves the obvious question: why aren’t more South Africans off-grid and producing electricity for themselves? How come rain-soaked Germany can generate almost 7% of its annual power needs through rooftop solar panels, when sun drenched South Africa can’t?
And the answer we often come back to is simple: in many countries, and especially European ones, there are generous “feed-in tariffs” (FITs) through which national electricity suppliers are forced to pay home owners for every unit of electricity that they produce with their own renewables but don’t use. High FITs introduced in the UK in 2010, for example, provoked a boom in the solar industry a few years ago as regular consumers discovered they could actually make a profit over the lifetime of a photovoltaic generator on the roof.
Bet you didn’t know we have almost exactly the same set-up here in South Africa? Or at least, in one place in South Africa anyway.
Back in September, an office park in Observatory became the first customer of the City of Cape Town’s electricity department to legally sell surplus energy back into the grid. The 1.2MW Black River Park Solar Project switched on following two years of pilot programs devised by the city to see how a feed-in tariff would work in South Africa.
South Africa’s energy regulator is looking at a framework that would enable homes and businesses to receive credits for feeding surplus power they generate from rooftop solar panels back into the constrained electricity grid.
“There is growing interest from South African electricity customers to install rooftop photovoltaic systems in order to reduce their electricity bill and supplement their consumption,” the Pretoria-based National Energy Regulator of South Africa said in a draft discussion paper to formulate its position on principles, licensing and conditions for installation of small-scale renewable embedded generators. The document was published on its website and dated Dec. 10.
The City of Cape Town has launched a set of guidelines and associated tariffs for small scale embedded energy generators with a generation capacity of less than 1MVA. Guidelines and tariffs have been compiled for commercial, industrial, and residential generators and are applicable for both renewable energy generation and co-generation. Small scale generators will be permitted to connect to the grid and in so doing be able to both import energy from and export a limited amount of energy onto the City’s grid, which they will be credited for.
Brian Jones Head of Green Energy at the City of Cape Town explains that the tariffs are only for small scale generators that are net consumers, i.e. they consume more from the grid than they put back onto the grid. “We are not looking for customers to generate more than they consume on average over the year, they must have purchased more over the year. We will be assisting net consumers, not net generators,” explains Jones. Consumers on the small scale embedded energy (SSEG) tariff will also not be permitted to sell or supply energy on to another user. The energy has to be consumed on site or exported onto the City of Cape Town’s grid.
Requirements and application process
Only generators with a generation capacity of below 1MVA will be considered for the SSEG tariff. Evidence of a generation license will not need to be produced for connections of up to 1MVA. However, Jones adds that they will advise the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) of all generators connected to the grid and it will then be up to the regulator to indicate if a generation license is required. Any small scale generator that wants to connect to Cape Town’s grid is required to complete a detailed application form and gain written approval from the City of Cape Town before connecting to the grid. The approval process includes getting permission from different City Departments, testing of the installation and ensuring that the equipment aligns with technical standards (The details of this process can be found in the Guidelines for Embedded Generationdocument). The guideline document separates consumers into residential, and commercial and industrial users.
Residential customers that want to be compensated for energy that they place on the grid will be required to move to the SSEG tariff structure and to have an industrial bi-directional AMI credit meter installed. The purchase and installation of this meter will be done by the City and will be for the generator’s account. The Residential small-scale embedded generation tariff comprises of the following charges which will be updated annually:
Commercial and industrial customers
Like their residential counterparts, commercial and industrial customers that want to connect to the grid and feed energy back on to the grid will be required to install an industrial bi-directional AMI credit metre, which will be for the customer’s account. Again, commercial and industrial generators that want to connect to the grid but don’t want to be compensated for energy that they place on the grid will be required to install a device which blocks reverse power flow. Commercial and industrial prepayment customers will be required to be on a tariff that has a daily service charge and they will be credited at the same rate that residential consumers will be credited, explains Jones. The energy credit tariff is based on an estimation of what the City would have on average paid Eskom for the energy. VAT will only be paid out to registered VAT vendors.
The first contract signed
The City of Cape Town signed its first two contracts with small scale embedded commercial generator, Black River Park on the 23rd of September 2014. Black River Park is an office park spanning two separate erven that has installed two independent solar PV plants on its rooftops (950kWp and 252kWp) which generate electricity for its office use. Black River Park will now be able to export energy that it does not use onto the City of Cape Town’s grid and be credited for this.
Documents available online
The guideline document, application form, and contract for both residential, and commercial and industrial users, is available on the City of Cape Town websitefor downloading.
Small scale alternative energy generators – yes that includes you and I with solar PV on the roof – will finally be able to feed our excess energy back into the grid and get paid for it by the City of Cape Town!
The City of Cape Town has set itself a target of sourcing 10% of its electricity from renewable energy resources by 2020 and the roll-out of the small-scale embedded generation tariff supports this goal.
‘Simply put, those residents and businesses that generate their own electricity through alternative renewable energy resources will soon have the option of feeding a limited amount of surplus generation back into the grid, for which there will be an off-set against their electricity accounts,’ said the City’s Executive Mayor, Patricia de Lille.
By David Lipschitz (SAAEA Honorary Lifetime Member)
In 2008, the government announced Feed In Tariffs. I was there. In Parliament. Invited by a Member of Parliament who I already knew because of my Energy Research, which started in about 2004.
In 2009, the government implemented Feed In Tariffs, but made them impossible to get. No one got them! In 2011, the government said that Feed In Tariffs were illegal and changed to the British Tender System. In the meantime Britain had just changed from the Tender System to the Feed In Tariff system because the Tender system had failed!
The Tender System led to over-regulation and over-regulation leads to corruption.
Meanwhile Eskom compares (benchmarks) themselves with Enel in Italy. And Italy suffered from the same problems as South Africa. great Feed In Tariffs, but no implementation. If you want to follow this approach, then Enel is the company to follow.
In 2011, the City of Cape Town announced Net Metering which they implemented in 2012 and changed in 2013. And today in 2014, not one person, organisation or company has got a Net Metering system in the City of Cape Town.
The DA has learnt from the ANC. Say one thing whilst doing another. This is called GreenWashing and it leads to corporate and private investment, which then finds that the situation isn't real, and then these investors close up shop and leave.
The DA and ANC's solution? Nuclear Power, Coal Power and Frack the Karoo. Are these a good idea? Do they solve South Africa's peak demand problem? Are they water and environment friendly? Where does the waste go? How much water do they use? Do they pollute? Are there more modern 21st Century alternatives that give 24 hour "base load" electricity?
In the meantime Billions of Rands has been wasted by thousands of businesses, investors, private individuals like myself, NGO's, NPO's, and many others, trying firstly to be ready to meet the demand, then trying to fit in with regulation and then trying to work out what to do to radically increase South Africa's electricity supply.
Many of these people were happy to give their time free of charge, but most of these people have been chased away and have given up.
South Africa is a resource rich, labour rich and capital rich country, with a lot of goodwill. It should be growing at 10% after inflation per annum, i.e. at 16% including inflation. But it isn't. Why isn't it and what can we do about it? And why has the goodwill evaporated?
The South African economy is close to R4 trillion per annum. 10% in real terms is R400 billion. The government is a 1/3rd of the economy, hence R133 billion in tax to government. This is a lot higher than all the money that can be gotten by taxing the things that make the economy work, for example electricity, water, rates, transport. And it can be done without government borrowing. And every year the backlog in schools, hospitals, school teacher salaries, etc, can be addressed, with change to spare and without government borrowing, and the tolls on all South Africa's roads can be removed, as they won't be needed.
If you are interested in these answers, in hearing my story, and learning why I and others are creating a new market for electricity in South Africa, email me and we'll be happy to come and share with you.
I have 15 minute presentations, one hour presentations, and presentations all the way up to detailed one day workshops. And if you'd like a week of my time, we can also arrange this. So far, it takes me about 3 days to tell my entire story and explain all the parts that make up the new system that I have developed. I am happy to have discussions and I am happy to talk off the cuff without notes and without tape recorders. If you want to record the sessions you are welcome. If you want to invite your entire staff for a motivational talk, you can also do this.
Ke nako: the time is right for rapid, sustainable, secure, environmentally friendly and inexpensive electricity generation which creates an environment for rapid, sustainable, secure, environmentally friendly and inexpensive economic growth.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Phone: +27 21 813 9895 (SkypeIn number: reach me anywhere in the world with a local call if you are in South Africa)
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