Is solar energy expensive energy?

We all accept the fact solar energy is the way forward for South Africans that are fed up with rising electricity costs and the inconvenience of load shedding. However, is solar power really the way forward? Could solar power in actual fact be more expensive than fossil fuels? Lets have a look at the costs of solar power compared to that of Eskom’s coal powered electricity.

The costs of solar energy

A couple of years ago the costs of a photovoltaic system was R5 kWh compared to Eskom’s R0.50 a kWh. Solar power has now plummeted to R1 per kWh while Eskom has risen to R1.84 per kWh.
The drop in solar power’s price can be attributed to many factors such as a rise in demand and drop in production costs.
Installing a solar power system that is able to power all the necessary appliances is still not within reach of most South Africans as such a system is expensive.
Let’s look at the breakdown of such a system

Solar panels R91 000
A battery bank R72 000
Inverter R36 000
Additional costs R34 000
Total Costs R233 000

Keep in mind this would be a Maserati of solar power systems and battery banks are not necessary but advised in South Africa where the power delivery is unreliable and power cuts common.

Long Term Investment

Lets look at this investment over a period of twenty years. At a cost of R200,000 it would equal R2,000 a month. If you take current electricity bills into consideration as well as the fact that Eskom is planning major tariff hikes you would most likely start making your money back within 5 years. And after twenty you would be making huge electricity savings.
Some estimate that you would be able to bring your electricity down to 80c per kWh. That is a lot less than the current tariff of R1.40n per kWh that Eskom is charging now.

Environmental costs

Yes, the production of solar panels produce tetrachloride and other toxic waste products but these production plants are tightly measured by the industry as not to lose credibility.

Let’s look at coal

We aren’t going to look into the environmental impact here as we all know that coal is known as the dirty commodity. Let’s rather look at the coal situation in South Africa at the moment.
After the Second World War there was a decision made by the South African government that the economic rebuild should be based on coal as it was cheap and widely available. This is no longer the case.
90% Of the electricity produced by Eskom comes from coal fired power stations. These run 24 hours a day and is supposed to be supported by Independent Power Producers (IPP’s). This is because the South African government decided back in the late 90’s that IPP’s would be better than extra coal fired power stations. The IPP’s never materialised.
As a result South Africa is in the middle of an energy crises as the demand for energy rose, but the supply didn’t. Therefore the demand for coal has also soared and can also not be supplied.
This is known as the looming coal cliff. The shortfall ranges from 60 to 120 Mt and is expected to be at its worst by 2019. This means that coal is just going to become more expensive and so are the electricity tariffs.

What’s the Verdict?

All in all the production and installation costs of solar power systems are offset by the savings in the long run and the reduction of carbon emissions. It is an investment that will create much bigger returns in the long run.
As more users go onto solar energy, Eskom will naturally have to raise their tariffs to make up for lost users.
If you are interested in solar power contact us here for more information.

Previous Posts
Solar power Africa: Morocco’s World’s Largest Concentrated Solar Power Plant
Going Solar: Solar Impulse 2 – Back in the Air and Breaking more Records
Easy and Effective ways to reduce your Carbon Footprint
Current Load Shedding Situation in South Africa
South Africa on Track to becoming Global Leader of Green Energy
Solar Impulse 2 Around-the-World Flight Update
A Guide to going Solar
Farming and Solar Power – Go Together like a Horse and Carriage
Solar Power FAQ
Considerations when Finding the Perfect Solar Installer
Soventix Solar Projects: Gauteng Grid-Tied Solution Taking Shape
Soventix Large Scale Solar Project Kicks Off in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal
V&A Waterfront set to implement huge solar power project
South Africa ranks in Top 10 globally for solar power
South Africa on track for more utility-scale solar power plants
Robben Island set to run on solar power
Kenyan mall switches on largest solar carport system in Africa
What happened to load shedding
Understanding electricity consumption
Solar power advantages
How solar technology is improving informal settlements
Home solar options
Green Festivals – How Rocking the Daisies plays hard while treading lightly
Eskom turns to solar power to beat load shedding
Cutting fuel costs with innovative solar powered motorbikes
Why use solar power for home security?
Why do I need solar power?
Solar solutions for businesses
Installing solar on my roof
How to start my solar project
How much can I save with solar?
Commercial solar system project completed at ACA Threads, Cape Town
Large scale outdoor PV system completed at Quiver Tree Apartments, Stellenbosch
South Africa’s power crisis driving mines to renewable energy
New lithium battery technology could change solar power industry
How to finance your solar power systems
Comparing solar systems and generators
Understanding solar power language
Solar Impulse completes its historic solar energy flight to Hawaii
How to calculate the solar system size for your needs
Beating load shedding with photovoltaic solar systems
5 Solar tips for farmers to beat load shedding
5 Solar power tips to get through load shedding with ease
Solar cell breakthrough brightens the future of solar energy
How to beat load shedding. Solar power vs. Diesel Generators
Solar panels investigated. Which will suit your needs?
How farmers save money through solar energy
5 Clever ways agriculture can use solar power
Comparing solar power systems for your home
The Ecocapsule, a revolution in green design
Polycristalline vs. Thin Film Solar Panels
Everything you need to know when upgrading your solar power system
South Africa’s Solar Power Farms
Seamless Solar – Solar Panels that add to the beauty of your home
Solar powered cars – are they the future of motoring?
Solar power, battery – vs no battery backup system
Is solar energy expensive energy?
Load Shedding – How does it affect agriculture?
Ten easy steps for creating a green home
5 Things you didn’t know about solar cookers
Green power from the sea – harnessing wave energy
Selling electricity to Eskom. Can it be done?
Load Shedding – Is There An End In Sight?
Five Simple Ways to Reduce Your Electricity Bill at Home
Eskom’s Rebate Scheme for Small-Scale Renewable Energy – Is it for You?
Three Ways To Get Your Business Off The Power Grid
The Latest In Solar Power Technology For Your Home
Five ways farmers can reduce their carbon footprint
Why is solar power becoming more affordable?
Seven Facts About Owning A Solar Power System
Vrede en Lust leads the charge in the Cape’s solar-powered wine farms
Carbon Neutral Homes: Can they Exist?
Five easy steps for creating a green office
Solar Power and Agriculture
Different Sources of Renewable Energy
Solar Power and its Global Effects
Discover The Benefits of Household Solar Panels
Yingli Solar Panels
Solar PV Diesel Hybrid Solutions
Small-Scale Renewable Embedded Generation
Beat the Darkness of Load Shedding With Solar Backup Power!
Net Metering in the Cape Town Domestic Market