- Power crisis drives South Africans to solar PV
- Cost barrier deepens divide between rich and poor
- Failure to sell back to grid a missed opportunity
JOHANNESBURG, Aug 15 (Reuters) – Thanks to his rooftop solar panels, Pierre Moureau only notices the blackouts that regularly plunge South Africans into darkness when complaints pop up on his Johannesburg neighbourhood’s WhatsApp group.
“I have a certain standard of living,” said the 68-year-old financial planner, who likes to unwind in his home sauna. “I want to be able to live according to the way I am.”
As a worsening power crisis hobbles Africa’s most industrialised economy, provoking public ire, President Cyril Ramaphosa has promised to cut through red tape to boost coal-addicted South Africa’s use of renewable energy.
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But many South Africans are not waiting for government action and their impatience has driven a boom in small-scale solar installations.
“I cannot be without power. It’s as simple as that,” said Moureau, whose panels power his home as well as his adjoining office. “Every minute I’m down costs me money.”
In the first five months of this year alone, South Africa imported solar PV panels worth nearly 2.2 billion rand ($135 million), a Reuters analysis of customs data found. That amounts to over 500 megawatts of peak generating capacity, analysts say.