Eskom vs Generators vs Solar: Load Shedding Options

Eskom isn’t getting any better, and we find ourselves constantly aware that load shedding isn’t going away. What are our options? 

There are particular alternative power solutions to Eskom, such as petrol/diesel powered generators, that we’ve come to expect from homeowners and small business owners. But these aren’t holistic solutions, because they either aren’t sustainable or they aren’t able to be applied across a business’s full operations. Solar energy, on the other hand, is a seemingly good option, but is still quite unknown to the general public. 

We weigh these three power solutions up against each other—Eskom, generators, and solar power—to see what comes out on top. 

EASE LOAD SHEDDING WITH SOLAR

 

Is Eskom Reliable?

In short, no. Eskom has proven over the past twenty years that reliability is not something that they can be counted on for.

Eskom’s current situation is that it’s staring down a multitude of challenges; from backlogged maintenance to system failures, incomplete power stations (years behind schedule), and constant load shedding, it’s clear that Eskom simply can’t produce the amount of electricity that South Africa needs. 

Should homeowners and small businesses continue to invest into national power by buying their electricity through Eskom? Or is it more sustainable and wise to pay an upfront infrastructure cost to attaining electricity independence? As Eskom’s debt and issues continues to rise in number, it doesn’t look like electricity from the grid will be decreasing price any time soon (particularly with the fluctuating Rand), making the latter choice more appealing than ever. 

Are Generators Sustainable?

Generators are certainly a solution, and one that has been taken on board by many homeowners and businesses already. There is little point in us running over the benefits of generators, as the simplicity of their offering is that they allow for power when Eskom does not. 

However, it’s important to note that generators consume fuel, which is their downfall. This contributes to a running cost and makes them less sustainable than renewable energy options. 

It’s true that an ±R8,000 generator is affordable compared to a R40,000 battery for renewable energy. But, what many don’t consider is that the generator is not a once-off cost—you will have a monthly fuel bill, that will increase as fuel becomes more expensive.

"International oil prices surged by nearly two dollars a gallon in late December 2019 before beginning a recovery which was halted by the recent tensions between the USA and Iran," the AA says. "In the first week of January 2020, the two dollar mark was tested again, albeit with a slight recovery since." (Source: https://www.wheels24.co.za/Fuel_Focus/this-is-what-you-can-expect-to-pay-for-fuel-in-february-20200117)

The AA further stated that the volatility of the Rand is poor news for fuel prices, particularly as political tensions rise in the Middle East making the base cost of oil rise, meaning that Rand fluctuations will add increases upon increases.

Yet, the running costs are not the only spanner in owning a generator. A generator also requires noise-cancelling housing, or to be placed a considerable distance from your neighbours, as the noise produced by these machines can reach 90 to 95-decibels. In addition to this, carbon-monoxide (CO) gas is the by-product of these generators, causing health concerns for the room it’s housed in (and the environment). 

Is Solar Power an Effective Solution?

Solar power is a solution that is completely noiseless, sustainable, environmentally friendly, and free to run. The important consideration for solar power is the installation cost, and this will vary greatly depending on the size of the installation necessary for your business.

However, due to the fact that solar is free to run once installed, it returns its investment within a seven-year window. That means, after these seven years (±), solar power is free power for your business with fairly average maintenance costs, if any at all, making it exceptionally beneficial for a business’s longevity or homeowners.

  Eskom Generators Solar Power
Reliability No Yes Yes
Installation cost Low Low High
Running cost Medium High Low
Maintenance cost Low Medium Low
Cost tied to ZAR
Yes Yes No
Earning Potential
No No Yes (sell energy back into the grid)
Lifecycle Uncertain ±10 years ±25 years

 

It’s true that alternative power solutions such as fuel-powered generators are the solutions that we’ve come to expect from homeowners and small businesses. In response to Eskom and with little other education about other options, most homeowners and businesses had no other recourse. But it’s clear that generators are not holistic solutions to Eskom’s unreliability, because they aren’t sustainable for the long-term (in terms of cost and health). 

Solar power is an incredible solution and, while it does require a heftier installation cost than generators, it can recoup its investment quicker than any other option (as well as providing earning potential in the long-term). 

If you’re fed up with Eskom’s reliability and uncertain of the running cost of fuel-powered generators, get in touch with us below to talk about some solar power solutions.

CHAT WITH AN ENERGY EXPERT