Gauteng and NW Province

Renewable energy at home makes ‘cents’

As many as 40% of Americans doubt that global warming is real. That is up from about 25% just a few years back. The change doesn’t reflect shifting scientific knowledge – in fact, the evidence is stronger than ever that climate change is real, already upon us and, in part at least, caused by human activities. So what’s happened? The answer is that waters have been muddied by a classic campaign of disinformation, mostly by vested interests.

Similarly, there is a widespread belief – here and abroad – that using renewable energy alternatives for your home or office are just not economically viable. The truth is very different. Indeed, the age of being ‘off-the-grid’, more or less, is upon us.

In SA electricity has been cheap for decades, but not anymore. Electricity prices are on the rise pushing the costs of living through the roof. Fortunately, there is a solution: renewable energy. Through net metering – the feeding of power into the grid at the same rate as which power is purchased – solar power can now cost the same as grid power, offering a sustainable energy solution.

Several companies in SA are currently busy with a number of pilot projects to see how net metering will best work and to study its implication on our grid. These projects have been operational for some time, but we have to wait until February 2014 before net metering will even be an option in the Western Cape, for example.

With 13 countries and 42 states in the USA that already allow net metering, there is no reason, beyond bureaucratic gridlock, why SA can’t do the same. We know that our national power grid is under pressure to meet growing demand. If municipalities won’t allow home owners to implement net metering immediately, perhaps it’s time that suburbs and housing clusters sign up and implement net metering themselves. Some cities generate as much as 90% of their revenue from the sale of electricity, and it is possible that net metering is seen as a threat to this revenue stream. Can our municipalities perhaps not afford to lose this income?

For the first time, from July 2012, it will make economic sense to install a solar power system at home. The environmental benefits of renewable energy source over coal or nuclear-based power sources are endless. Switching to solar power has become a fairly simple process.

Once your system has been installed you start saving money almost immediately. It’s really that simple. And while the climate change denialists and eco-naysayers grumble on about the cost of electricity, you’ll be saving money at home or at work.

Simply Green May 2012

Cut your electricity costs, cut your water costs. Get off the grid and at the same time you join the happy family of conservationists.

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