Going “off the grid” can have different meanings for different people. Some people take it as living in an isolated location while growing their food. Others consider “off the grid” as not being reliant on local energy providers for their electricity.
In South Africa, our electricity supply has become ‘somewhat’ unreliable in recent years. With frequent power outages due to load shedding (planned and unplanned) and steep energy price increases, solar energy has become a popular choice.
Many South Africans are asking the question “Is it possible to rely entirely on solar power?” And the answer is YES! However, it will involve a large investment in your account. A complete solar system will set you back anything from R80 000 to R250 000, depending on the system type and the amount of energy you need to generate. (You can opt to just install a solar geyser system which will come close to cutting your monthly electricity bill in half.)
While it might seem expensive to install a complete solar system, you have to keep in mind the current electricity costs from Eskom. Depending on the system you choose, you could pay it off in 5 – 7 years and be completely “off the grid” for the rest of your life. Solar panels have a 30+ year lifespan, so you won’t be replacing them anytime soon.
In sunny South Africa, we don’t have extended periods of bad weather but lithium batteries will ensure you don’t run out of power on overcast days.
Do I Really Need Solar Batteries?
For more than a decade, electrical grids were built on the assumption that generated electricity needs to be distributed and used right away because storing energy wasn’t feasible economically. Needless to say, opinions about power generation have changed drastically over the last few years.
As renewable energy generation becomes more popular globally, its supply inconsistency and variability is starting to affect the electrical systems and energy storage is becoming a fundamental element. Energy storage can help to even out dips and spikes in solar resource availability by making it available at the time of peak demand and not only when generated.
In the last decade, battery backup manufacturers have been adamant about perfect energy storage technology. The main goal is to make it more robust to harsh environments, extend its lifespan, evolve management systems and make it more affordable.
While going completely off-grid might be out of our reach at the moment, there are enough solar solutions to help lighten the load on the current electrical grid. These solutions will enable you to enjoy a reliable energy source, save a substantial amount of money in the long run and decrease your carbon footprint significantly.