Pylons carry electricity from a sub-station of state power utility Eskom outside Cape Town in this picture taken March 20, 2016. Picture: REUTERS / MIKE HUTCHINGS
Pylons carry electricity from a sub-station of state power utility Eskom outside Cape Town in this picture taken March 20, 2016. Picture: REUTERS / MIKE HUTCHINGS

While our attention was focused on the plan to save Eskom from itself, the news broke that the latest power auction produced a price of 2.51 US cents a kW/h for electricity from solar photovoltaic panels. That is 37 of our cents at Wednesday’s exchange rates.

The successful bidder was the international power solutions provider ACWA Power, for two 125MW solar PV projects for Ethiopia.

To put this in perspective, Eskom’s average selling price is 90.01c per kW/h, but the power from its new and struggling power stations is much more expensive.

The trade unions complain that renewable energy is too expensive — and one of the reasons why Eskom is in trouble. In fact, what we need is more Ethiopia-type solar projects to subsidise Eskom electricity and bring down the average price of power.

It also helps us understand why municipalities such as Cape Town want to supplement their Eskom power purchases with solar electricity bought directly from independent power producers.

Geoff Jacobs
President, Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry

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