The Risks Posed By Renewables
While renewables present an exciting opportunity for supporting African industrialization and economic development in a way that supports climate change mitigation efforts, they are not a magic pill without issues. Beyond intermittency (which can be addressed by our VPP platform), there are significant risks around grid management that they introduce.
With the anticipated large-scale deployment of solar, the net load’s mid-day dip and evening peak will become sharper and pose challenges to grid management. The distinctive shape of this load curve resembles that of a duck, lending the name "duck curve" to describe the wild swings in over/under generation that need close management.
Further issues of intermittency arise when weather - particularly wind or sunlight - does not cooperate with best-case productivity scenarios
Poor transmission infrastructure and lack of interconnection between SADC countries present challenges in distributing to new users and meeting new demand.
In particular, old infrastructure often cannot handle the voltage produced by modern renewables technology, particularly for long-distance transmission. Adding Gigawatts of renewables - particularly at slightly higher voltage than what networks were built to support - represents a meaningful hazard that has caused the national utility companies in many countries to purposefully slow down new interconnections from solar and wind.
Decentralizing generation and shortening distance between source and offtaker is the most effective approach to this hazard - ironically this is also how grids initially evolved historically in the US; as networks of microgrids that grew in service area before energy generation eventually became centralized.
Only South Africa, among SADC countries, has extensive interconnection of transmission lines within country.