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Tesla helps shed Eskom’s load

11.05.2015

THIS week, the web has been abuzz with news of a potential reprieve for South Africans who are sick of noisy generators and dimly illuminated candle-lit dinners, as Tesla announced its solution to electrical woes. Let’s take a minute to think about the significance of Powerwall, a financially viable battery-pack for the everyday person to buy and “go off the grid.”

Now when I emphasize financially viable, I imply that this is not something new; you can buy existing technology that does the same thing, the only problem is, it’s quite expensive and therefore elitist.

Now at US$3 000 or R36 000 the Musk-inspired battery-pack isn’t what you’d call cheap, with the average household needing around one year to recuperate the initial cost versus terrestrial electrical consumption methods. However, the dependability of the electrical supply just might be worth it.

So what would the adoption of Powerwall technology mean for us from a transport perspective? Well as I read about this technology and the South African behind it, I immediately thought of a chain reaction.

As with most everything, the middleclass would soak up the burden and potentially buy these devices, which when used, would ease the strain on the national grid leading to less load shedding and therefore fewer traffic lights being out. I don’t have to remind anyone of the problem of multiple traffic lights being out in the greater Johannesburg area; it’s utter chaos!

From a business perspective, less interruption means more productivity and less reliance on hefty gas-guzzling generators, which helps the economy which - let’s face it, with continued labour unrest, tourism taking a dent thanks to a lashing of xenophobia and decreased foreign investment and business confidence - needs all the help it can get.

In a country where sunshine is almost perpetual, this device would be used to its potential, which is to generate power by means of a solar panel during peak sunlight hours for use during peak blackout hours. This means we could once again have dinner with the TV on, (that most anti-social activity that has come into prominence). I wonder how many dining room tables feel more loved since load shedding has become a reality again?

This device would also instil more confidence in electric vehicles and while I know our society has been slow on the uptake of these silent cruisers, I foresee a hike in sales when this crisis is averted, whether it is as a result of Medupi or Tesla.

Perhaps the people of Soweto could find solace in one of these systems? Soweto residents have been protesting this past week against the installation of pre-paid electrical meters, stating they’re too expensive. I remind you… Soweto owes Eskom over R3-billion in electrical tariffs as of November last year, which is more than the rest of the country, combined!

It is at this point that I’d like to share an experience with you. At my home, we received duplicate electricity bills in error and in doing so we went to pay the account. However, we thought the duplicate receipt was for another month. So, we paid the amount and then received a notification from Eskom that there was an outstanding amount and that supply would be cut off. An Eskom van was there within an hour and promptly shut off the supply. By the time we paid the surplus it was too late and had to wait another day before we got power back.

I checked and we owed R200; a drop in the ocean compared to Soweto’s debt yet, their power stays on? I had an idea to burn tyres too, but I need those for my Track Day so I’ll take to this piece to express my grievances.

What are your thoughts on the Powerwall? Would you buy one when it arrives late in 2016? Have you experienced the swift wrath of Eskom when it comes to account discrepancies?

Article written by Sean Nurse
11.05.2015
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