Renewable energy is still very much on the back-burner for the South African government, but if you need any further proof that it can dramatically ease the burden of electricity supplier Eskom’s fossil fuel generation, look no further than a recent Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) study.

According to the study, wind and solar energy saved South Africa around R3.7 billion, which would have otherwise been used to support the generation of electricity through diesel and coal.

“The benefits earned were two-fold. The first benefit, derived from diesel and coal fuel cost savings, is pinned at R3.7 billion. This is because 2.2 terawatt-hours of wind and solar energy replaced the electricity that would have otherwise been generated from diesel and coal,” said Dr Tobias Bischof-Niemz, the chief engineer at the Integrated Energy Research Centre at CSIR, in a statement.

According to CSIR, “the second benefit of R1.6 billion has been derived from almost 120 hours of ‘unserved energy’ avoided due to the contribution of wind and solar projects. The supply situation has been so tight that customers energy supplies may have had to have been cut (‘unserved’) if had not been for the energy generated by the renewables projects.”

What this means, is that renewable energy in South Africa saved R5.3 billion or R2.42 per kWh of renewable energy, when this is compared to payments received by independent power producers (IPP). These producers received R4.5 billion or R2.08 per kWh of renewable energy.

“Our study shows that in 2014, renewable energy provided a net financial benefit to the country. Without the first solar and wind projects, we would have spent significant additional amounts on diesel, and energy would have had to be “unserved” during approximately 120 additional hours in 2014,” Bischof-Niemz added.

“What is more, the cost per kWh of renewable energy for new projects is now well below R1 for solar PV and between 60c – 80c for wind projects. That will keep the net financial benefits of renewables positive, even in a future with a less constrained power system.”

[Source – CSIR, Main image – CC by 2.0/John Gwynne] ]
Charlie started his professional life as a motoring journalist for a community newspaper in Mpumalanga, Charlie explored different journalistic angles since his entry into the fast-paced world of publishing in 2006. While fostering a passion for the arts, Charlie developed a love for technology – both which allowed him to serve as Entertainment and Technology Editor for an online publication. Charlie has since been heavily involved in consumer technology for various websites and publications. He thoroughly enjoys World War II films and cerebral documentaries; aviation; photography and indie music. Oh yes, and he also has a rather strange obsession with collecting coffee mugs from his travels.