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Renewable Energy Solutions | Sustainable Power Generation

What Are the Top 5 Renewable Energy Solutions Available to South Africans Today?

It is increasingly evident that in South Africa and, indeed, Sub-Saharan Africa, the urgent investigation into renewable energy solutions has become a prerequisite. Fossil fuel-based energy resources like petroleum, diesel, coal, hydrocarbon gasses and minerals, such as uranium, are finite commodities, but they provide fuel for the generation of electricity to most of these regions. Additionally, the power generation facilities providing this bulk power to nations in these areas are seemingly deteriorating rapidly through age and neglect.

Due to disrepair, irregular maintenance and a lack of part availability, among others, the retirement of these facilities should be considered in geographic locations where renewable energy solutions are available in vast supply. African countries, like South Africa, are ideally located to take advantage of their abundant supply of potential power-generating natural resources. For this reason, PacB Power Solutions investigates the top five renewable energy solutions available to South Africans today.


Why Renewable Energy Solutions are Being Adopted by South Africans

Power generation in South Africa is still dominated by generators fuelled by diesel and coal, falling behind in the global trend of cleaner energy. Furthermore, these installations are in a state of disrepair and their lifespans are nearing an end. For the last decade and more, South Africans have had to endure gruelling power generation shortages manifesting in the form of load shedding. This sharing of the grid’s capacity has become increasingly unreliable and there appears to be no immediate solution.

Although the government is exploring avenues to relieve the crises, including moving toward more environmentally friendly solutions, bureaucracy, bidding and tender procedures, approval and other pre-construction processes have delayed any significant improvement. Subsequently, private individuals, commerce and industry are independently exploring alternative sources of energy to power their homes, businesses, corporate concerns, and industries. Because of the dramatic rise in fuel costs, these entities are investigating renewable energy solutions available to them in South Africa.


Top 5 Renewable Energy Solutions available to South Africans Today

Most South Africans associate renewable energy exclusively with wind and solar energy when, in reality, it includes all technologies that can sustainably produce power without the aid of fossil fuels. Nature provides alternative power generation in many ways, though they are frequently geographically, biologically or weather dependent.


  1. Geothermal Energy – (Heat from the Earth) – The more than 87 surface hot springs on the southern tip of the African continent are evidence of the hydrothermal reservoirs which lie beneath the Cape Fold Belt, across the Karoo region and the Limpopo Belt. Additionally, hot dry-rock formations are found in granites in the Northern Cape region, and in the northern areas of Kwazulu-Natal and Limpopo.

Technology and geoscience tools are widely available to safely explore these areas of potentially suitable green energy sources before expensive extraction drilling begins. This form of power does, however, promote the balanced cost of electricity and is commercially viable for many areas in South Africa. Furthermore, it could alleviate energy poverty and increase grid resilience in the country.


  1. Biomass (or Biofuel – Energy from Plants and Animals) – For most of human history, biomass from plants and animals was the main source of energy. Until the industrial revolution in the 1800s, biomass was burned for heat, meal preparation and to feed animals that supported most of the transportation of people and goods.

Although still used for these purposes today, modern technology has produced biofuels that can be blended with diesel and run internal combustion engines. Biofuels are increasingly being used for heat and power generation alongside traditional biomass sources such as agricultural by-products. South Africa’s success in agriculture and farming provides an excellent platform for biofuel production. However, it is strictly regulated to avoid food-generating agricultural shortfalls.


  1. Hydropower (from the Force of Flowing Water) – Hydroelectric stations generate electricity from the swift flow of water through energy-creating turbines. Water either has to flow downhill very rapidly or be stored in dams for release under pressure. Coastal and high-rainfall areas in South Africa are already benefitting from hydroelectric power. 

However, South Africa is a country prone to drought and, even in coastal areas, climate change has negatively influenced anticipated, regular rainfall regions. With no rainfall, hydroelectric power cannot be generated. Additionally, the technical maximum feasibility of hydropower is estimated at 14 000 GWh/year of which the country has already developed 90%.


  1. Wind Energy – Wind as a source of renewable energy is most effective in coastal areas or regions where there are consistently strong winds. South Africa offers many locations where winds reach acceptable electricity generation speeds of an average of 7.5 to 8m/second. Winds in the Eastern and Western Cape provinces, where many wind farms are located, often produce high-velocity winds.

South Africa has 33 wind farms in varying stages of construction throughout the country. Although wind is a functional source of green energy that may be stored in battery backup power packs, large tracks of land are needed to harness the necessary energy requirements. That said, the country generates a combined 932.3 GWh/year of clean power into the existing grid. This is equivalent to supplying renewable energy solutions to approximately 215 000 homes.


  1. Solar Energy (Energy obtained from the Sun) – The entire Sub-Saharan region has sun all year round. South Africa has a solar radiation average of 220W/m2, making this resource capacity one of the highest in the world. The country is the largest solar power producer in Africa, generating capacities of 4.55 terawatt-hours, aside from solar water-heating capacities.

As a sustainable renewable energy resource, the sun is the most readily available resource in South Africa. Daytime peaks see many users, private, commercial and industrial, running straight off-panel power with enough surplices to provide battery backup power for night-time use and cloudy days.

George Airport in the Western Cape was the first airport in Africa to run entirely on solar-generated energy, generating up to 750 kW daily. The mining industry in South Africa is expected to spend an estimated $3.8 billion on renewable energy projects in the near future. Additionally, they have already implemented plans to develop photovoltaic (PV) plants with an estimated combined capacity of 585 MW of solar power.


Renewable Energy Professionals Offer Backup Solar Power Solutions

These are the top five sustainable, renewable energy solutions available to South Africans today. In one form or another, South Africa has the recourses and capabilities to expedite and implement one or all of these natural assets on a commercially viable scale. However, the most cost-effective that should be expanded upon immediately, are wind and solar energy. Solar technology has advanced to an extent that makes it affordable, cost-efficient and reliable.

The renewable energy professionals at PacB Power Solutions have a wealth of knowledge and expertise in designing, commissioning and optimising solar energy systems. Although situated in Pretoria, South Africa, our footprint covers both the national domestic and Sub-Saharan marketplaces. We specialise in solar power generation, from the simple domestic arrangement to complex integration between grid accesses, generators and wind and solar energy on large-scale projects. Consult with PacB Power Solutions. Leaders in backup power you can rely on.


Our qualified technicians offer support and advice in the selection of the right power solution for your needs by calculating your power requirements.

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