Did you know that if we could harness 0.01% of the sun’s energy, we could supply enough electricity for the entire planet?
New solar harnessing technology is becoming more and more popular in SA. Large companies—many of them local—are offering affordable photovoltaic systems for homes. Those who are wise enough to see the return on investment are grabbing such products with both hands. Why? Because these products promise to provide ample convenience, as well as huge savings on power costs.
The time has come for South Africa to join the rest of the world in seeking out alternative energy sources. Of all times, NOW is when we need a solution to our power crisis. A growing population coupled with a strained power grid are threatening our infrastructure—but as always, South Africans are more than willing to rise to the challenge.
The need for solar panels in South Africa
Eskom has not tried to hide the fact that it is grossly under-equipped to supply the entire country with power. Approximately 22 years ago—before the end of apartheid—only 40% of South Africans had electric-powered homes. Today, that percentage has practically doubled! A growing economy has unavoidably led to a growing demand for more power.
For this reason, we must turn to other energy sources in order to relieve Eskom of its overload. Solar power systems have been developed and improved over the past decades. Today, these systems are available to everyday home owners who not only want to get off the grid, but need to.
Benefits of going ‘off the grid’
But what other benefits are there to going off the grid? We already know and experience power cuts on a fairly regular basis and recognize how much inconvenience they can cause. We also understand how countrywide power outages affect our economy. Let’s look at other excellent reasons to convert to solar power.
- A huge return on investment: Home owners who invest in a solar power system for their homes will accumulate savings month after month; year after year. The cost of a solar power installation doesn’t compare to the amount of money you will save long term.
- The peace of mind knowing that your power is free: You will no longer need to worry about ‘wasting’ electricity, because yours is renewable—and free.
- A long term reduction on the country’s strained power supply: Being off the grid means you are one less person drawing power from the country’s already-strained power supply.
- Environmental responsibility: Above all, you and your family will be reducing your carbon footprint on the environment.
The government’s encouragement of renewable energy usage
Eskom is more than happy to promote solar energy to South African residents. Ultimately, it means that they will be able to cope with the country’s power needs. Many people have the misconception that there are strict regulations for installing solar panels. But the fact is; every one of us is encouraged to do so.
The latest photovoltaic technology
As mentioned, photovoltaic systems are being improved upon every year. Solar panels created from the latest technology are available in South Africa. Let’s see step-by-step how a basic solar power system works.
- Each solar panel is made up of individual cells (electrons)
- Light from the sun penetrates these cells in the form of photons
- Every time sun penetrates a cell, the photons pushes the electrons and causes kinetic energy
- Collectively, this kinetic energy can either run the electricity needs of a device (or home), or be stored up in a battery for later use
Major suppliers of solar energy systems
Some companies manufacture solar panels, while others install them. Supply and installation will depend on what you need. Questions such as, “Will you need a backup battery?” and “How many solar panels will it take to run your building?” are important to consider.
Many companies are entering this industry. At the moment, the biggest players in the solar power market are Solar World, Solar Power Store SA, Green Cubed Energy and Solaire Direct. Many solar panel manufacturers do installation as well, but there are those who recommend contractors to do so. What all of the above mentioned companies have in common, is that they are eager to advise customers on the various solar power options available to them.
Our responsibility to switch over to solar energy
Alternative energy has become an imperative. Not just because of convenience, but because of the planet. It takes massive amounts of energy to run a country, and it has been estimated that in the next 20 years, Eskom will need an additional 52 gigawatts of power. This number can and will be reduced if regulars South Africans like you and me convert to a renewable energy source such as the sun.