Enel Green Power SpA is introducing a version of Tesla Motors Inc.’s home-power kit to help South African retail customers solve the rising electricity prices and grid outages.
With South African power tariffs set to increase by 9.4% this year, Tesla’s battery system could be more attractive to customers seeking to reliably store self-generated renewable energy at home, said Enel Green Power Chief Executive officer Francesco Venturini in a phone interview. Power outages plagued the country’s grid on average about every fourth day last year.
“Now that the prices are going up, people are going to look at entirely different solutions,” Venturini said. “There is a section of the population that can afford to buy backup power for the house,” specifically in Cape Town, where the pilot project has begun, he said.
The kit, which began selling this month for around $10,000, includes a power inverter, lithium battery and optional photovoltaic modules — all controlled by software accessible through a tablet, smartphone or computer. South Africa is being used as a testing ground for the kit, which is expected to last for two decades and pay for itself after about eight years, according to Enel, which also operates renewable energy projects in Latin America.
“We’re developing it in such a way that you can build more on that platform,” said Venturini. The system is interfaced with an application that indicates when state-owned utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. will conduct power cuts and charges the battery accordingly.
Enel has been awarded 1.2 GW of wind and solar capacity in South Africa through a bidding process where the government guarantees the price paid for power from winning commercial projects.
There have been some issues with connecting the larger projects to the grid and closing the deals, according to Venturini, who said he still considered South Africa's “one of the best” power auction systems in the world. The company is considering additional renewable projects in east and west Africa while participating in tenders in Zambia and Namibia, he said.