If you live in South Africa, you are probably familiar with the term ‘load shedding’. It’s the practice of cutting off electricity supply to certain areas or sectors of the country when there is not enough power to meet the demand. Load shedding has been implemented on a near-permanent basis since 6 September 2022, with only two days where outages were completely suspended (9 and 30 October)1. In fact, South Africa has experienced load shedding for 100 consecutive days this year, and even dipped into stage 7 load shedding on 23 February 2023, which means up to 7,000MW of power was shed.
Load shedding has a negative impact on the economy, businesses, households and quality of life. It disrupts productivity, communication, security, entertainment and comfort. It also damages appliances and equipment due to voltage fluctuations and surges. It’s clear that load shedding is a problem with no immediate solution.
But what if there was a way to reduce your dependence on the unreliable grid and save money on your electricity bills? What if you could harness the power of the sun to generate your own clean and renewable energy? That’s where solar solutions come in.
Types of Solar Solutions
On a sunny day in South Africa, solar radiation can be up to 1,000 watts of power per square meter. This powerful energy can be captured by solar power systems which typically consist of solar panels, inverters, panel-mounting and performance monitoring equipment, as well as solar batteries.
There are three main types of solar solutions that you can choose from depending on your needs and preferences: grid-tied, off-grid or hybrid.
Grid-tied solar solutions are connected to the national grid and use it as a backup source of power when there is not enough sunlight. They also allow you to feed excess electricity back into the grid and earn credits or rebates from your utility provider. Grid-tied systems are ideal for homes or businesses that have high usage during the day when solar power is most abundant.
Off-grid solar solutions are completely independent from the grid and rely solely on solar panels and batteries to store and supply electricity. They are suitable for remote areas where grid access is unavailable or unreliable. Off-grid systems require careful planning and sizing to ensure that they can meet your energy demand throughout the year.
Hybrid solar solutions combine both grid-tied and off-grid features. They have a smart inverter that can switch between using solar power, battery power or grid power depending on availability and cost-effectiveness. They also have an automatic backup function that kicks in during load shedding or blackouts. Hybrid systems offer flexibility and security for homes or businesses that want to maximise their savings while having peace of mind.
Reduced Effect of Outages
One of the most obvious benefits of investing in a solar solution is that it reduces your vulnerability to load shedding. Depending on the type of system you choose, you can either minimise or eliminate your reliance on Eskom’s erratic supply.
With a grid-tied system, you can use your own generated electricity during daylight hours when load shedding is most likely to occur. You can also sell any surplus power back to Eskom at favourable rates under their Small-Scale Embedded Generation (SSEG) programme. This way, you can offset some of your costs while reducing pressure on the grid.
With an off-grid system, you can enjoy uninterrupted power supply regardless of what happens on the grid. You don’t have to worry about losing data, missing deadlines, spoiling food, or compromising safety due to blackouts. You can also avoid paying any connection fees, tariffs, or taxes to Eskom.
With a hybrid system, you can have the best of both worlds. You can use solar power when it’s available and cheap, battery power when it’s scarce and expensive, and grid power when it’s necessary and convenient. You can also switch seamlessly between sources without any disruption or intervention. You can also benefit from SSEG rebates if you export excess electricity back into the grid.
Reduced Electricity Costs
Another major benefit of investing in a solar solution is that it reduces your electricity costs in the long run. Solar energy is free, abundant, and renewable. Once you install a solar system, you can start generating your own electricity at a fraction of the cost of grid power. According to NexSolar, a solar power specialist company, the cost of solar power installation can range from around R63 000 to R200 000, depending on the size of the house and electrical output requirements. However, this initial investment can be recovered within a few years through savings on your electricity bills.
Solar energy is also immune to inflation and tariff hikes. Eskom has increased its electricity prices by an average of 15% per year since 2008, and is expected to continue doing so in the future. Solar power, on the other hand, has a fixed cost that only depends on the initial installation and maintenance. Once you pay off your system, you can enjoy free electricity for up to 25 years.
Increased Protection of Appliances
Another benefit of investing in a solar solution is that it protects your appliances and equipment from damage caused by voltage fluctuations and surges. These are common occurrences during load shedding or when grid power is restored after an outage. They can cause short circuits, overheating, or malfunctioning of your devices, which can result in costly repairs or replacements.
With a solar solution, you can avoid these risks by using a stable and consistent source of power. Solar systems have built-in regulators and controllers that ensure the voltage and frequency of the electricity are within safe limits. They also have surge protectors that prevent any spikes or surges from reaching your appliances.
Recently Announced Tax Rebate
Perhaps the best benefit of investing in a solar solution is that you can take advantage of a recently announced tax rebate for rooftop solar installations. In February 2023, National Treasury introduced a new section in the Income Tax Act that allows businesses and individuals to deduct up to 100% of their capital expenditure on small-scale embedded generation (SSEG) assets from their taxable income in the year of assessment. This means that you can reduce your tax liability by claiming your solar system as an expense.
However, there are some conditions and limitations that apply to this tax incentive.
Firstly, you need to obtain approval from Eskom or your municipality before installing your SSEG system.
Secondly, you need to comply with all relevant technical standards and regulations for safety and quality.
Thirdly, you need to keep records and invoices of your SSEG expenditure for at least five years after claiming the deduction.
Fourthly, you cannot claim more than R50 million per year for SSEG assets under this section.
This tax rebate is a great opportunity for South Africans who want to go green and save money. Rooftop solar panels can help you reduce your dependence on grid power, which is unreliable and expensive due to load-shedding and tariff hikes.
The good news if you are reading this, is that you are in the perfect place if you are looking for a professional, knowledgeable and certified group of experts to help you take advantage of solar savings. We at MH Office Machines only believe in partnering with the best and most qualified brands to provide our customers with the best possible experience, and in this case, you can rest assured your installation with us will be 100% compliant with all required regulations with no added fees. We can also provide all qualifying customers with flexible financing options, so you don't need to save to start saving!
As you can see, investing in a solar solution in South Africa has many benefits that outweigh its costs. You can reduce the effect of load shedding, save money on electricity bills, protect your appliances from damage, and enjoy a tax rebate on your installation. All while contributing to environmental sustainability and energy security.
If you are interested in finding out more about solar solutions or getting a quote for your home or business, contact us today. We are experts in designing and installing customised solar systems that suit your needs and budget. We also offer financing options and after-sales service. Don’t let load shedding ruin your day - go solar with us!