SMMEs should consider investing in their own energy storage solutions in light of load-shedding, which is here to stay for the foreseeable future, according to Business Unity SA’s Environment and Energy Manager Happy Khambule. Khambule also said that local distributors, be it Eskom or local government, should incentivise more domestic production from SMMEs to feed into the grid.
He further stated that easing regulations for SMMEs to operate in the energy sector was viable as there was interest from the private sector investors. Speaking to Vutivi News, Khambule said that SMMEs could safeguard themselves from continued energy insecurity and the risk posed to their productivity by investing in self-generation technologies. “South African businesses are in a dire situation, one that is not due to their own design, and yet to survive the current crisis and to remain competitive in the future, SMMEs must consider energy storage solutions, self-generation technologies as well as a diversification of their energy end use,” he said.
In many instances, not all energy needs require the use of electricity; in South Africa, at least, there is a range for thermal, space heating as well as illuminating needs.” Khambule also pointed out that in order for SMMEs to be able to support the national grid by producing their own electricity, there needed to be a better explanation of what it meant to deploy generation capacity at different levels. He also spoke about what was required for local distributors, local government, or Eskom to incentivise more domestic production from small and medium businesses.
“This would require streamlining registration processes, certification, and technical authorisations, as well as the development of a clear feed in tariff methodology. If not, a net metering system that accounts for net energy use or production. “In the case of SMMEs, the business case for investing in generation capacity needs to be explored beyond the security of supply, and that means that investing in capacity should not be seen as a negative,” he told Vutivi News.
Khambule also said that as SMMEs began to participate in the production of 100MW, the environmental authorisation process must be fast-tracked, especially when SMMEs used non-fossil fuel-based energy production. “A consideration must also be made concerning the level of localisation in technologies, as South Africa does not have the full ambit of components and suit of abilities to produce the required components,” he pointed out.
Also, the more SMMEs were invested in the energy sector, the greater the co-benefits were for society and the economy. “The opportunities are not only in project development, running of construction and the trading of electricity, but also in innovative finance models, ownership, design and secondary benefits that lead to greater supply chain value add,” Khambule said.