Engineering News 21 June 2012.
Should solar photovoltaic (PV) become South Africa’s cheapest form of electricity, intermittency could limit the technology’s penetration of the energy market, Thupela Energy CEO Philip Calcott said.
Smart grid technologies, storage, as well as geographical and source diversity could assist in evening out changes in supply, he stated at the second yearly Solar South Africa conference, held in Johannesburg this week.
However, Calcott pointed out that for solar to extensively penetrate the market, backup power would be required.
“The backup sources will have to have a low capital cost, be flexible and have a relatively low fuel cost, if it is fuel driven,” he said and suggested that shale gas could be a feasible backup source to address long-term intermittency problems…
(Editorial note: Of course it doesn’t have to be shale gas, we could rather import liquefied natural gas from Mozambique, or get it direct by pipeline. The lead time on large scale shale gas production in SA is about 15 years – with much uncertainty along the way, such as energy policy, EIAs, financing and proving the viability of the gas fields. It is perhaps better to go the import route first. Other solutions to intermittency are to build CSP plants with storage, use imported hydro plus widely dispersed wind farms, exploit the SAPP, plus pumped storage of course.)