Broadening the discourse on small-scale generation: an investigation into public opinion of embedded rooftop photovoltaic systems in Stellenbosch

Morar, Geeta Sara Creecy (2017-03)

Thesis (MPA)--Stellenbosch University, 2017.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY : This paper investigates and critically evaluates the effects of the emergent approach taken towards the uptake of distributed generation (DG) systems in South Africa. The study focuses on a case study conducted in Stellenbosch, Western Cape, on the uptake of small-scale embedded generation photovoltaic (SSEG PV) systems, and compares this with a literature review of strengths and weaknesses of the approaches towards the promotion DG that have emerged elsewhere in the world. The study includes a focus group conducted with ten participants (homeowners from Stellenbosch) to determine their opinions of the feed in tariff (FiT) scheme enabled by Stellenbosch municipality in the absence of national policy guidance. This scheme will ultimately allow them to connect their rooftop PV systems to the municipal network and sell excess electricity to the municipality. The findings of the case study and literature review are triangulated with theory on sustainable development, systems thinking and complexity in order to assess the extent to which the emergent South African approach is aligned with goals for sustainable development expressed in national development policy and by the United Nations Environment Programme. The results of the case study reveal that participants’ responses to the FiT scheme are more complex than originally thought, and can provide some insight into why the FiT scheme has been less successful in encouraging homeowners to invest in SSEG PV systems than expected; while the results of the literature review reveal that more holistic approaches to the promotion of DG systems are generally more successful than those that rely on the provision of limited financial incentives. Ultimately, the research shows that South Africa could benefit from a more holistic approach towards the design of strategies for the uptake of SSEG PV systems, and DG in general, if the country is truly dedicated to achieving goals for sustainable development. This study also and provides suggestions of what such an approach could look like. It is recommend that the Stellenbosch Municipality reconsider their R140 fixed monthly grid connection fee, if they are committed to discussions regarding the sustainable uptake of distributed generation (DG) or small-scale embedded generation (SSEG). A longer-term perspective is also required to consider how the benefits of increasing the uptake of these systems can be monitored and realised in real terms. Finally, it is recommend that future researchers continue to broaden the input from electricity consumers (and potential prosumers) and take on the task of generating knowledge on consumer need and opinion regarding the increased uptake of RE and SSEG, and of increasing the scope of such research to various race, gender and socio-economic groups to improve the promotion of equality in energy and electricity developments in Stellenbosch.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Hierdie studie ondersoek en evalueer die uitwerking van die opkomende benadering tot die inkoop van verdelende generasiesisteme (DG) in Suid-Afrika. Deur ‘n gevallestudie onderneem in Stellenbosch, Wes- Kaap, word die aanvaarding van ‘n kleinskaalse opkomende generasie PV (SSEG PV) sisteem beproef. Dit word vergelyk met ‘n literatuustudie wat beide die sterkpunte en swakhede van die benadering evalueer om sodoende die opname vooruitgang wat elders in die wereld ontstaan het, te bepaal. ‘n Fokus groep van tien deelnemers (huiseienaars van Stellenbosch) se menings oor die terugleweringsvergoedingskema (FiT) wat geimplimenteer word deur die Stellenbosch munisipaliteit in die afwesigheid van die nasionale beleidsriglyne is bepaal. Hierdie skema sal dit uiteindelik moontlik maak om PV stelsels vanaf huishoudelike dakke aan die munisipale netwerk te verbind en daardeur surplus elektrisiteit aan die munisipaliteit te verkoop. Die bevindinge van die gevallestudie en literatuurstudie is versoenbaar met die teorie wat onderliggend is aan volhoubare ontwikkeling, sisteemdenke en kompleksiteit. Dit bepaal hoe die ontluikende Suid-Afrikaanse benadering gekoppel is aan die doelwitte van volhoubare ontwikkeling wat beide in die nasionale ontwikkelingsbeleid en die Verenigde Nasies se Omgewingsprogram uiteengesit word. Die resultate van die gevallestudie dui daarop dat die deelnemers se reaksies tot die FiT skema meer kompleks is as wat aanvanklik verwag was en kan insig gee tot hoekom die FiT skema minder suksesvol is om huiseienaars aan te moedig om in SSEG PV sisteme te bele. Die resultate van die literatuurstudie bevind dat die meer holistiese benadering tot die bevordering van DG sisteme, oor die algemeen, meer suksesvol is as die wat staatmaak op die voorsiening van beperkte finansiele aansporings. Uiteindelik bewys die navorsing dat Suid-Afrika voordeel kan trek uit ‘n meer holistiese benadering tot ontwerp van strategiee vir die aanvaarding van SSEG PV sisteme, en DG sisteme mits die land werklik verbind is tot die bereiking van doelwitte vir volhoubare ontwikkeling. Hierdie studie bevat ook voorstelle vir die ontwerp van so ‘n benadering. Dit word aanbeveel dat die Stellenbosch Munisipaliteit die vasgestelde maandelikse konneksiefooi van R140 moet heroorweeg, indien hulle verbind is tot die volhoubare aanvaarding van DG of SSEG PV. ‘n Langtermyn analise is ook benodig om te oorweeg hoe die toenemende inkoop in hierdie sisteme bevorder kan word. Laastens word daar voorgestel dat toekomstige navorsing moet voortbou op kennis ten opsigte van die verbruikersbehoefte en menings oor die toenemende aanvaarding van RE en SSEG. Verdere navorsing wat ras, geslag en sosioekonomiese groeperings insluit, kan gelykheid van energie- en elektrisiteitsvoorsiening in Stellenbosch bevorder.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/100996
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