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Can solar power help the South African energy crisis?

South African state energy provider Eskom has been the subject of much criticism in the past couple of years due to accusations of corruption and mismanagement which have led to the country undergoing extended periods of load shedding. Load shedding is conducted through a series of planned power outages to help maintain the state infrastructure which is struggling under the demand for energy expected of it.

During these periods of load shedding, more and more South Africans are turning to alternative energy sources such as solar panels to help them keep the lights on through the rolling blackouts. But how much can personal solar power systems help at these times? We gathered data about energy use in South Africa and how much energy the average citizen would need to store to keep them going through stage four load shedding, where the lights are out for up to four hours at a time across an eight-day period.

South Africa is a consistently sunny country where most areas get roughly seven hours of sunlight a day. This ensures that any personal solar photovoltaic system would have a regular supply of fuel to maintain its energy levels. However, the average South African consumes 10kWh of energy per day which is roughly the same as the energy generated by five solar panels in a single day. For South Africans to depend on solar energy for just one day, each person would need five panels on their house, making it an unlikely solution.

Additionally, the storage of energy is a difficulty which many personal power systems wouldn’t be able to handle. Stage 4 load shedding means citizens are out of power for a total of 48 hours across the entire eight days. It would take 16 Enertec deep cycle batteries to store 48 hours of energy and two of these batteries to survive a single four-hour period of load shedding alone.

While personal solar panels certainly help move the country from its dependence on coal, Eskom must work to introduce larger solar power systems to serve the entire country, as well as a number of other renewable energy initiatives. The citizens of South Africa will not be able to survive independently from the grid, meaning that should load shedding start up again, it will continue to affect businesses, public institutions and families and demoralise the nation as it sinks back into the dark ages.

The article and infographic were provided by Battery Experts, sellers of portable batteries in South Africa.


Damon is a content writer for Battery Experts in South Africa. Battery Experts sell portable batteries for everything including laptops, tools and power banks.