Stage 1 load shedding preventable if solar farm application process is fast-tracked

Applications for the building of solar farms are delayed by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa), although these farms could help avoid Stage 1 load shedding – and contribute to making producers more competitive.

Nicol Jansen, Agri SA chair of the Centre for Excellence: Economics and Trade, highlighted that the current electricity crisis and load shedding was costing agriculture in a variety of ways.

This include crops that cannot be irrigated for enough hours per day to meet international standards for the export market.

“Agriculture is severely strained by load shedding, but the agricultural sector has a huge potential to help conquer these electricity shortages.”

According to Jansen, there have been about 400 applications from farmers who have showed interest in building solar farms.

“Agri SA is trying to get to the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, as well as the Minister of Energy, Jeff Radebe, to discuss these problems that we do have within Eskom and Nersa as well as the potential of the agricultural sector. If we can get those applications through, we can stop phase 1 load shedding for the whole of the country.”

He explained that solar farming requires a significant outlay of capital to erect and fund the power generating farms.

“For farmers, having their own solar farm makes it more profitable to generate their own electricity than to buy it from Eskom. The plant can fund itself over five to eight years,” argued Jansen, pointing out that the country could have access to 1 000 megawatts of self-generation if all the applications were approved.

That equals about one fifth of the generating capacity of the Khusile coal-powered power station, he added.


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