Power and Power Security
So South Africa is a great place to live – our lifestyle is really very good and improved living in one of South Africa’s beautiful estate’s and complexes.
Reality is that everyone needs to provide for the security of their own services – those of schooling, health, home, road usage! and power supply – and soon water will feature strongly on this list!
Various solutions for power security exist – whether this is purely for backup when Eskom can not supply us, PV power generation to reduce monthly bills or a combination to provide for total independence from Municipal Utilities.
When ever looking at powers systems, we view solutions as if on a path from now to tomorrow’s independence. The steps taken are determined by requirements and informed by budget and longer term views of trends likely to affect the household.
Much talk about Eskom and Medupi power stations along with renewable energy Private Power Producers (PPP) is in the media, but the medium term (5-year horizon) picture is one of increasing costs and the need for us to invest in our own infrastructure.
Our approach to power systems is an equation of 3 separate facets, namely:
- Demand Reduction
- Power Backup
- Power Generation
Smart money is spent on reducing our electrical demand – whether by investing in new technologies, solar water heating, LED lighting, modern appliances, and life style adaptations. These are interventions available to us now and will save money as well as reduce the burden on the national power grid. These technologies do not have to cost huge sums – sometimes they are effectively free of capital outlay!
At the same time, or after the above, power backup (of a manageable load) is readily achieved by investing in generators or inverter systems.
Next article will look at the Generator vs Inverter discussion in greater detail as there are several considerations regarding sizing and costs.
Power generation, beyond pure backup, generally requires a greater level of investment. Reduction of the home’s electrical demand has an amplified effect on generation costs, whether with renewable energy, in the case of PhotoVoltaics, or with large diesel generators. More about this in subsequent columns.