How to incentivise South Africans to feed back into the grid

Eskom, some municipalities and the ANC government are in many respects just in the dark ages (pardon the pun) compared with the first world when it comes to solving load-shedding and planning a necessarily renewable electricity supply for future generations.

If the government and Eskom (and the electricity minister) had any sense, and wanted to drive massive solar installation and reduction in grid demand to remove industrial and economic constraints quickly, reassure foreign manufacturers (like the motor industry) and attract foreign investors (like steel and aluminium smelter-based manufacturing), they’d expedite the following immediately:

  1. Remove the R15,000 cap on the SARS rooftop solar PV rebate for residential/private installations.

  2. Increase the rebate from 25% to 75% for residential/private installations for the next three years, and thereafter scale it down annually. This will incentivise urgency to implement on an unprecedented scale when the nation needs it most, to get the maximum rebate, but also unlock planning to expand private and business renewable systems annually for three years as finances permit.

  3. Allow a rebate to be claimed for ALL equipment and installation costs (inverters, batteries, meters, mounting hardware, cabling, switchgear, application costs, engineers and installation labour) for ALL installations (business or residential), excluding large-scale IPP, wheeling, etc (subject to other rules).

  4. Find and certify cheaper feed-back-capable meters that are durable/reliable, single and three-phase, post and pre-paid (separate models), and approve these meters for national use (SABS, ICASA, et all).

  5. Mandate that these new meters must be accepted by all provinces and municipalities. Stop this nonsense about Cape Town being pathfinders of their regional solution because large parts of the rest of the country’s authorities are asleep - just make it nationally applicable and let’s all move forwards together.

  6. Mandate (in SANS electrical standards) that all new grid-connected meters, both single and three-phase, nationwide, must in future be feed-back-capable, and that any grid-connected meter that is replaced must be a nationally-certified, feed-back-capable meter. This sets up the national electricity grid infrastructure for becoming very green, very quickly and sustaining this for generations.

  7. Standardise the process nationally to apply for, inspect and certify installation of grid-connected solar and other renewable electricity sources (small-scale wind turbines and whatever else evolves) that may legally and safely feed back into the grid.

  8. Put a national application and approval processes online immediately, using the framework of the Cape Town process that appears to be the most advanced. Make sure that this doesn’t become yet another drawn-out, multi-year, BBBEE corrupt and wasteful IT tender or something like the NATIS fiasco. The cloud platforms to do this exist online today and could be configured within a month by a small team of competent IT people with a tight deadline (to anyone who’s doubtful, consider that the Empire State building was constructed in one year and forty-five days, and earthquake/nuclear/hurricane and other emergency management systems have been activated online within hours by unpaid volunteers).

  9. SANS should issue comprehensive reference designs, criteria and checklists FREE for very simple SANS 10142-compliant single-phase inverter/battery/PV-panel installations. This should exclude parallel inverter installations, multiple battery installations, EV connections, PV more than say 8kW.

  10. Remove the requirement for a Pr Eng Electrical Engineer to sign off solar installation designs if they comply strictly with the SANS simplified reference designs and criteria [ONLY].

  11. Pr Eng Electrical Engineer sign-off should be required for installations that are (a) single-phase not strictly compliant with above-mentioned reference designs or are (b) three-phase or are (c) other special cases (not covered by SANS 10142-1 like medical and hazardous/explosive environments). It is ridiculously bureaucratic, time-consuming and costly for simpler installations to require an engineer’s sign-off.

  12. Allow Electrical Testers for Single Phase to test and issue Certificates of Compliance ONLY for “simple installations” as described above, and ONLY if they possess a Wiremans licence (Registered Person licence) and have passed an exam on certifying inverter/battery/PV installations (study and examination material to be created). This would be new as Electrical Testers are not permitted to issue CoCs whatsoever currently. If they find anything whatsoever that does not comply with the SANS simplified reference designs, criteria and inspection checklist, then they MUST escalate to a properly-certified Installation Electrician or Master Installation Electrician by registering the case on the national portal.

  13. Inspection and issuing of a Certificate of Compliance for all other installations MUST still be performed by a properly-certified Installation Electrician or Master Installation Electrician ONLY (not an Electrical Tester) to ensure safety of the grid to consumers and electrical workers.

  14. Introduce very, very harsh penalties (severe fines, blacklisting, equipment confiscation including vehicles used, and electrical license revocation, and jail to repeat offenders) for anyone who fraudulently (incl testers) issues a CoC (a) if not suitably certified or (b) without submitting back to the national application portal verifiable evidence (photos with serial numbers and test results) of the on-site requisite tests. This is putting lives at risk, increasing insurance premiums for compliant people, and blatant corruption and criminality. It undermines conscientious efforts to improve the nation.

  15. Use independent inspectorates to randomly check CoCs issued by testers, and any installations reported to a national whistleblower line.

Note that the rebate proposed in point 2 would deal with the reluctance to feed back into the grid due to the ridiculously unattractive commercials for grid feed-back at present.

Nothing in the above is intended to dissuade the competent DIY guy, (who may have an MSc in Electrical Engineering but daftly can design Koeberg but not install an inverter), from cobbling this all together under the guidance of his Master Installation Electrician who issues a CoC, and being innovative with Node Red, Home Assist, IoT and so forth. :wink: