Agriculture has the potential to supply the electricity needed to prevent future load shedding through solar power generation, says Agri SA. There are 500 applications for solar generation plants, that have the potential to contribute 1 400 MW to the national grid and relieve strain on the overburdened power utility. If administration processes are streamlined, these 500 applications, and others, can be rolled out.

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“We are not asking for funding or even special treatment, we are just asking to speed up the application process in Eskom and NERSA,” said Nicol Jansen, Agri SA chair of the Centre for Excellence: Economics and Trade. “This is a win-win opportunity for government and South Africa,” he said.

Small-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) installations present an opportunity for farmers to generate electricity and relieve strain on the grid. Unfortunately, due to Eskom’s slow processing and administration of applications, the slow implementation of electricity regulations and the bottleneck to register with NERSA, only 13 projects are currently connected and operational.

If Eskom and NERSA can fast-track their processes, these applications (mostly from farmers) can generate 1 400 MW that can prevent the so-called Stage 1 load-shedding. Agriculture could more than double this 1 400 MW potential if the commercial banks are willing to use solar plants as security for finance access. Currently, banks require additional security to finance these projects, which limits participation.

“By removing regulatory and administrative constraints and by allowing solar installations to be used as security to fund projects, farmers could potentially, with further expansion, supply enough electricity to prevent Stage 3 load shedding,” said Jansen.

Agri SA will engage with the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan and the Minister of Energy, Jeff Radebe to discuss proposals. – Press release