Bay engineers plan Eskom-free living

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Imagine Nelson Mandela Bay filled with small, silent wind turbines and solar systems – and no more reliance on Eskom.
That is the vision of a pair of Port Elizabeth engineers who have designed a “hybrid inverter”, the Renovo Power Solution, which they say could save consumers millions at the same time as saving the world.
Wiegand von Hasseln and Trevor van Onselen have launched a series of public seminars to publicise their invention which they say is “the first energy system mix, manufactured and available for the open market, of its kind in South Africa”.
It is also the cheapest, they say, because the price of R2279 a month, paid off over five years, for their 1kW system, matches the cheapest wind turbine so far produced – and they are adding a photo-voltaic solar panel component. And from that price you can also, each month, subtract your current electricity bill.
The turbine generated two-thirds of the total energy output, and the solar panels one third. There was also a battery that stored excess energy and released it automatically in the “dead” times when there was no wind or sun, Von Hasseln explained.
“Your average four-member household can bring down its consumption to 1kW by implementing basic green measures like low-energy light bulbs, a solar-heated geyser and installation of an automatic ‘switch-over breaker’ to turn off the mains when they are not in use.
“Thereafter, this household could invest in our system, and this would take them off the grid – or OTG, which also stands for ‘oh, thank God.’”
Larger systems are also available.
The price and the benefits should be gauged against the projected increase in energy tariffs, Von Hasseln said. “The projected worldwide tariff increase for electricity supplied by national utilities is 9%. If we continue buying electricity from Eskom for the next 20 years, that adds up to half a million rands worth of increases.”
Van Hasseln said while some sceptics might argue the manufacture of the turbine and solar panels in themselves generated a carbon footprint, this should be put into context.
“Firstly, once the equipment is up and running it runs clean so it pays off its footprint. Secondly, there is a trend starting where the supplier factories are themselves looking to get their power from renewables, and the more demand in the industry, the more this trend will be encouraged.”
Van Onselen said the energy background in South Africa was a clarion call for independent, innovative action. “Government’s proposed implementation of a ‘carbon tax’ on vehicles is an indication that similar carbon taxes could soon be introduced on other products, and even food.”

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