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Pay licence fees for your generator or solar panels!


Kas

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Old story. There will be a one time registration fee and it has been clarified that it will not be an onerous amount. I still don't like the general trend of government sticking noses where it doesn't belong (none of their business when it is off-grid), but the spin the media put on this back in the day certainly didn't help matters either.

(No, the government is not going to tax your solar panels... not under this law anyway).

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52 minutes ago, PaulinNorthcliff said:

Registration ALWAYS precedes TAXATION

That's a tautology. Of course it must be in that order, but the latter does not automatically follow from the former. We're a constitutional democracy. They can't move to taxation without passing a law, there is no provision for this in the present law.

The trouble is another law. The ERA (electricity regulation act, act 4 of 2006) basically forces regulation, and hence the law makers must come up with something. At the moment the ERA exempts you from registration (see schedule 2) if the generation is for own use, or if it is not connected to the grid (excluding commercial installations).

The reason why rooftop generation gets looped into this is because they have the potential to push into the grid and once that happens it is no longer for own use.

The rules they are trying to come up with has been available in the form of a discussion document for almost a decade (amended a few times). See page 15 for the reasoning why rooftop solar below 1MW needs to be registered too.Then on page 17 it again exempts private use and non-commercial off-grid generation.

I have asked this before, but so far nobody has been able to show me the smoking gun. Where is the law that will require us to register our pocket calculators and the two-stroke generator on the building site?

🙂

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15 hours ago, plonkster said:

We're a constitutional democracy. They can't move to taxation without passing a law, there is no provision for this in the present law.

 

That sounds very nice and good... but doesn't work in practice. I spend my days fighting extra-legal governmental encroachment on our rights and freedoms. I have a legal team of 15 attorneys, advocates and specialist researchers at my disposal. The South African government are past-masters at ignoring the written law and implementing whatever the hell they like. It falls to us to then challenge them in court... where we almost inevitably win, whereafter the State appeals, and if the appeal is unsuccessful they rush off to the Constitutional Court where their hand-picked team of  Social Justice engineers fix the game in the State's 'transformation' favour.

One interim interdict that we have held for almost 18 months now is being challenged by the State at the SCA (even though it is interim and therefore not permanent in nature), and doesn't impact on the separation of powers, therefore doubly 'un-appealable'. We have been informed by Senior Counsel for the State that if they fail at the SCA they will appeal to the ConCourt. The matter has cost us millions, so far. The State doesn't care. They plow ahead with all the money in the fiscus to do whatever the hell they like.

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Yeah maybe you are right, I don't know. I just hate fake news... even if it is about people I don't trust (aka confirmation bias). I can see that this law might be a stepping stone for more, but it's also written entirely reasonable: They care about production that's being added to the grid. In the beginning they thought that they need only care about 1MW and larger, but private installations under 1MW is now so common that the regulatory body has to know about it.

So the current response looks to me like someone saying "I'm not giving you the info you need to do your job cause I don't trust you!".

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21 hours ago, phil.g00 said:

They did something similar with boreholes in the 90's.

I'm glad there is no record of my borehole.

If it was meaningful for efficiency reasons, the government would have to display a modicum of competence in order to justify this requirement.

The government doesn't, and turkeys shouldn't vote for Christmas

 

Part of this is for safety reasons. Proper grid tied solar solutions have anti-islanding so that when the grid goes down, the system cannot export power. This is so that the guy who turned your street off  to do maintenance work doesn't get a surprise when he touches some cables. There are also concerns about phase and frequency of what is being fed into the grid. It's not really in the public interest to be able to have any old system feeding anything it likes back into the grid under any conditions, so an inspection and certification process is not unreasonable.

An interesting subplot is who may sell electricity. In many parts of Joburg Vumacam are putting up their camera masts. Those masts need power. The idea is that the community that is using the service should bear this cost. Since it's expensive and time consuming for them to get permission to connect these poles to the grid, they tried getting the nearest householder to allow a lead (under ground, in a conduit) to supply the mast and then compensating the householder. This was ruled to be a sale of electricity, and Joe Public can't sommer just sell electricity. These connections were cut.

I take your point about the government doing their job properly and well, but there are considerations other than efficiency of the service provider.

PS... there is a record of a your borehole, just as there is a record of my solar panels. It's called Google Maps.

Edited by Bobster
clarity
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We should not think this sort of red tape is uniquely South or Southern African or even "Third World".


A few years ago, I visited Rudyard Kipling's house in Sussex. It's a fascinating visit if you like this sort of thing, and the great thing is that the whole house, with contents, was given to the National Trust. So the sofa on which Kipling used to lie "waiting for the muse to visit" is not of the type that he would have had, it is THE sofa.

But I digress. Kipling's house was one of the first in the UK to be electrified. There is a river running through the property and the original system was that the river was passed through a mill, which powered a generator, which charged batteries, which could be used for illumination at night.

The original mill house, with generator, still stands. I asked if they ever ran it as a demonstration they said they weren't allowed to. Under legislation passed sometime in the 80s you may fish in a river that runs through your property, but the water and it's potential energy belongs to the state and you may not harvest either  without the necessary paperwork. And it would cost them too much to get the authorising, having inspections to make sure that all the safety regulations are met etc.

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3 hours ago, Bobster said:

This is so that the guy who turned your street off  to do maintenance work doesn't get a surprise when he touches some cables.

I have it from my registered electrician that any guy climbing a pole to work on the overhead powerlines earths himself out to prevent discharges from motors, etc winding down and other sources of backfeed.

I do know that whenever (and it happens twice a month lately) our main power cables are swiped off the pole in the street and I am running a generator to power my DB (properly wired and circuit breakers on the DB off) the nice contractor comes and asks me to turn the genny off before they reconnect wires. So maybe there is something to it???

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@Bobster,

It boils down to having faith that these authorities can possibly add any value whatsoever, or if it's about another layer bureaucracy and taxes.

If the authorities showed the slightest ability to control and manage the power generation that is already in their remit, they may have a point.

The fact is under the watch of these same authorities the electricity utility is in a shambles, both financially and operationally.

This was after inserting themselves into a world-class utility.

Ironically, the very popularity of domestic solar is a direct consequence of them doing their jobs so badly.

So as you say, there may be some doubt as to registration being a bad thing, but there is justification for both viewpoints.

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7 minutes ago, phil.g00 said:

Ironically, the very popularity of domestic solar is a direct consequence of them doing their jobs so badly.

Yes, I too have joked about that in the past. With the right spin you can turn it into a "good story to tell (tm)". Under the leadership of the ANC, South Africa has significantly increased its investment in renewable energy!

If you read the paperwork you can even get some hints of it. The Integrated Resource Plan (2010-2030) had in mind a certain target of renewable energy (3725MW). They f***ed this up so badly that the private sector installed a sizeable portion of this all on their own, and now they have no idea how much is already installed and not under their control. Hence this registration requirement is also a way to quantify that.

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13 hours ago, phil.g00 said:

@Bobster,

It boils down to having faith that these authorities can possibly add any value whatsoever, or if it's about another layer bureaucracy and taxes.

If the authorities showed the slightest ability to control and manage the power generation that is already in their remit, they may have a point.

The fact is under the watch of these same authorities the electricity utility is in a shambles, both financially and operationally.

This was after inserting themselves into a world-class utility.

Ironically, the very popularity of domestic solar is a direct consequence of them doing their jobs so badly.

So as you say, there may be some doubt as to registration being a bad thing, but there is justification for both viewpoints.

I''m not convinced that Eskom WAS A world class utility, but it was certainly more reliable 30 years ago - for those who had connections* - than it is now.

Ironically one of the reasons my family left the UK in the early 70s was load shedding. Within 2 years of us moving Britain had introduced the three day week and moving to SA looked to have been a very smart move.

To me there's a separation of issues here. We should be very angry at the fat cats at the top of the food chain who bought us to this position, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be mindful of the person who comes to fix a street light or replace a stolen cable. Or that it's OK to just pump any old current back into the grid. So whilst I wish that Eskom executives should not get bonuses and there should be a ruthless forensic audit, I also think that a certification scheme is not unreasonable. Otherwise by the time they get management straightened out and Eskom back on the straight and narrow, the grid will have become a free for all.

* into the mid 1980s townships were only partially electrified. I remember there used to be a section of Eldorado Park that was called "kersiedorp" because they had to burn candles at night. In the parts that WERE electrified there was usually a communal DB for a block of houses, 2 plugs and a limited number of sockets per house. Eskom had an easier job back then.

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20 hours ago, PaulinNorthcliff said:

I have it from my registered electrician that any guy climbing a pole to work on the overhead powerlines earths himself out to prevent discharges from motors, etc winding down and other sources of backfeed.

Those guys have a combination of knowing how everything actually works and two big brass ones. This week a street lamp/power pole in our street started falling. We logged calls with City Power and they came out that evening. By the time the pole was 30 degrees from the horizontal and traffic was having to dodge it. I heard them arriving and went out to greet and thank them. The foreman says "well first we're going to separate the cables and the pole".  So I said "ok... so you're going to turn the power off for a bit?". He said "no" and I looked over his shoulder and there they are with the cable already separated and being coiled up, and the houses still had power.

For which I was thankful, don't get me wrong.

They worked through the night. In the morning everything was ship shape, and checking SEMS portal suggested that if the grid power was interrupted it was for a very short period.

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15 minutes ago, Bobster said:

I''m not convinced that Eskom WAS A world class utility, but it was certainly more reliable 30 years ago - for those who had connections* - than it is now.

By the late nineties, ESKOM had electrified the country, had a greater margin of reliable reserves, produced some of cheapest electricity in the world and did it with 50% less staff than they have today. They were a self-funded organization, with manageable debt, the fourth largest utility in the world and in 2001 were named company of the year in the global energy awards. ESKOM was known among power utilities internationally for being at the forefront of technology advancements. The work force was well-trained and largely trained in house and had a high morale. 

These things are in contrast to the position today.

31 minutes ago, Bobster said:

To me there's a separation of issues here. We should be very angry at the fat cats at the top of the food chain who bought us to this position, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be mindful of the person who comes to fix a street light or replace a stolen cable. Or that it's OK to just pump any old current back into the grid.

I know you keep mentioning this safety angle, and it is important, but it is such a fundamental safety feature, that I have yet to hear about a grid-tie inverter that is designed to feedback in the absence of a grid connection. Not only is it a safety feature it is an operational requirement of a grid-tie inverter.  If it could provide an independent supply back onto the grid, it  would be out of phase when the grid supply returned and that would be the catastrophic end of it. So they aren't made that way.

Again, on the other hand unknown cable connections(illegal and legal), emergency generators, UPS's, Capacitor banks, charged underground cables, induced voltages from parallel circuits and even large motors slowing down are all capable of feeding back into the grid. We have had them all on the system for a long time and managed to deal with them without registration.

Actually being one of those guys that works on the live and supposedly dead circuits, I can tell you the risk that legitimate circuits have not been turned off or discharged is so fundamental to the work that precautionary safety measures are actually legislation of long standing.

So in that regard, I see the reason for making the entire country register their inverters because of the hype about the "white whale" of improbable grid-tie inverter in the name someone who is trained to deal operational human or equipment switching errors anyway as being completely overkill.

Unfortunately, South Africa is a country where the government knows a lot more about redistributing assets without compensation than it does about how electricity works.

Those solar panels are a sign of wealth, and a flag of independence from the state-owned electricity monopoly.

There is your registration reason .... you are trying to escape their net.

 

 

 

 

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21 minutes ago, phil.g00 said:

Again, on the other hand unknown cable connections(illegal and legal), emergency generators, UPS's, Capacitor banks, charged underground cables, induced voltages from parallel circuits and even large motors slowing down are all capable of feeding back into the grid. We have had them all on the system for a long time and managed to deal with them without registration.

Ja. I may be making too much of this, but I do know a guy who went to a Builder's Warehouse or similar, bought some stuff and put it on his roof and boosted that he'd gone "off grid" for 14 grand. Something has to give there. I've had people ask me why I didn't just buy stuff and do it myself, so I don't think he's the only guy with such thoughts in his head.

I doubt he's actually "off grid", but he has solar panels on his roof connected to some stuff and thereafter who knows. I think City Power are entitled to ask him some questions when they notice his system, which they eventually will.

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I've been told that when slaughtering livestock that a sheep will stand mute while you cut its throat, a pig on the other hand will run around and squeal the house down as you approach.

You may it put in position that you that you have no choice but to register, but there should be chasing and loud objections involved beforehand.

 

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4 hours ago, Bobster said:

To me there's a separation of issues here. We should be very angry at the fat cats at the top of the food chain who bought us to this position, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be mindful of the person who comes to fix a street light or replace a stolen cable. Or that it's OK to just pump any old current back into the grid. So whilst I wish that Eskom executives should not get bonuses and there should be a ruthless forensic audit, I also think that a certification scheme is not unreasonable. Otherwise by the time they get management straightened out and Eskom back on the straight and narrow, the grid will have become a free for all.

Even when it comes to bonuses, I feel that there is a separation of issues. If there are guys there who are working hard, performing well, probably dealing with a lot of stress from management, abuse from the public, and due to their skill set can't exactly just go wherever they want, I feel that it is unfair that such a person is denied a bonus because management has screwed up. You want to RETAIN those people. The concept of paying people well in order to keep them applies especially to places such as Eskom. When I see people on social media complain about the bonuses, boldly asserting that nobody should get any bonuses at all... I worry a little about the thinking skills of our nation.

I agree that top management should not be getting bonuses. In fact, if the media is feeding us the correct info (and it seems accurate), there are too many managers there already, and given the state of things a large number of them do not deserve bonuses. But I worry when people boldly extend that to the entire organisation. As I always say: Be careful what you wish for.

The new CEO has taken a pay cut to make the move. We commend him for that, but even in that respect I've always had this controversial opinion: Find a CEO that is worth 50 million. Then pay him that. It's R1 for every person in the country, surely worth it for something this important. The trouble is finding someone who is worth it.

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3 hours ago, phil.g00 said:

I know you keep mentioning this safety angle, and it is important, but it is such a fundamental safety feature, that I have yet to hear about a grid-tie inverter that is designed to feedback in the absence of a grid connection

I have an interesting story to tell in this regard.  I have a Solis inverter.  The installer never set the grid standard to NRS from the default G59 UK standard, or failed to set it after the firmware was updated (they managed to brick it first by installing the wrong firmware, another long story).  The PR Eng who signed off on the system also didn't check the settings.

But the long and the short of it is that various items in my house, mostly pumps and motors behaved abominably and there was one prepaid meter trip which CoCT had to reset in the box down the road.  And then, one day, while the well point pump was running and load shedding hit the inverter failed to switch off.  It has a CT so it shouldn't feed back into the grid but it definitely remained on.  The voltage in the house was all over the place but I realised what was happening and shut the inverter down manually.  But it had run for a good few minutes.

I checked the settings myself at this point (in theory I shouldn't have access to the the service menu on the inverter, another oversight by the installer / PR Eng and I had purposefully not gone there because it was not my job) and saw the G59 setting and said to myself, nah, this can't be right. 

So I got hold of Solis UK (installer hadn't responded to my issues, or checked the settings as asked, repeatedly).  Friendly Saffer chap from Cape Town actually; and I set the grid standard to NRS.  Now everything is much happier including the pump and motor in the washing machine and well point, and the inverter actually does stop when the grid goes and the pump is running.

The rest of the settings still need to be checked and I am not qualified to do it.  Installer promised me end last year they will come this year, but so far this year nada.

A mate of mine who installs large scale wind farms was gob-smacked that the grid standard had not been properly set and checked after the firmware update, and then further by the PR Eng.

But essentially, it would appear, in some circumstances, a grid tied inverter (well the Solis in this instance) will not turn off when the grid goes down.  Never had this problem with my (non NRS approved) Fronius.

I still owe my installer the remainder of the installation fee (paid a 75% deposit).  Who thinks I should pay them the remainder?

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48 minutes ago, IdlePhaedrus said:

I have an interesting story to tell in this regard.  I have a Solis inverter.  The installer never set the grid standard to NRS from the default G59 UK standard, or failed to set it after the firmware was updated (they managed to brick it first by installing the wrong firmware, another long story).  The PR Eng who signed off on the system also didn't check the settings

I actually do remember you saying this, which is why I carefully worded my statement to include that a grid-tie inverter was not "designed" to do this.

I think your inverter is/was faulty.

Solis is an approved inverter that has been recently certified by an independent testing facility to not do this.

The G59 settings weren't your problem. Different country standards will reflect that country's frequency and voltage windows and frequency/power response, but they are unanimous on the no-grid-no-power aspect. 

I run a Solis inverter with G59 UK settings on it, ( I bought it second-hand from the UK) and I have confirmed that if there is no grid it shuts down immediately. I am an electrical test engineer, so it is my nature never to take things for granted.

Before I get the complaints, I run this grid-tie inverter on the AC out of a Victron Phoenix, which in turn has no grid-tie so I am not bound by any country-code. The Phoenix inverter is the grid equivalent in this off-grid set up.

In fact, I have an ABB grid-tie inverter in parallel with the Solis, also with UK settings that equally shuts down immediately on loss of grid.

I do think your inverter behaved abnormally at the time and had you not of caught it before the grid returned, the returning grid would have destroyed it. An out of phase fault can be the most severe of all faults types because up to double the voltage is involved.

Edited by phil.g00
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57 minutes ago, IdlePhaedrus said:

It has a CT so it shouldn't feed back into the grid but it definitely remained on.

Be careful not to confuse feeding into the grid with anti-islanding. It is possible to form an energized island even without feeding energy into the grid. I always use the example of the inattentive backhoe operator who manages to nick your cable "just so", so that you have a grid outage and your own connection to the grid becomes high impedance. If you energize your end of that cable, no energy will flow into the grid... but if anyone touches those cables in an attempt to fix it, and they will get the shock of their life.

Even where you do feed energy into the grid (legally), anti-islanding is still a requirement. You must stop energizing the line (whether you feed in or not) the moment the grid fails.

 

16 minutes ago, phil.g00 said:

The G59 settings weren't your problem.

Agreed. Anti-islanding is a requirement in all the grid codes. It's not as if it is okay in the UK to feed energy into a dead connection... (I mean surely you have heard of health and safety and how popular that is... 😛 ). It's more likely that something was wrong with the inverter itself.

Edited by plonkster
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59 minutes ago, phil.g00 said:

I run a Solis inverter with G59 UK settings on it, ( I bought it second-hand from the UK) and I have confirmed that if there is no grid it shuts down immediately.

Mine did too on G59.  This was at least tested, but loads like the well point pump weren't running at the time.  The well point pump also has a pressure switch so it switches on and off repeatedly every few seconds or less depending on the pressure for the station.

43 minutes ago, plonkster said:

Anti-islanding is a requirement in all the grid codes. It's not as if it is okay in the UK to feed energy into a dead connection... (I mean surely you have heard of health and safety and how popular that is... 😛 ). It's more likely that something was wrong with the inverter itself.

I have no idea why the inverter did this. But it did.

But everything is behaving better since the change.

Am still fascinated by the issue though. 

If anyone is interested feel free to pm me and I will send the raw data from the portal for the day.  It is sitting on my desktop.

 

Edited by IdlePhaedrus
grammar
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5 minutes ago, IdlePhaedrus said:

Mine did too on G59.  This was at least tested, but loads like the well point pump weren't running at the time.

There is a term in the electrical testing world called "type-testing". This is where you take a representative sample and throw it as many curved balls as conceivable repeatedly for long enough until the tester is confident that this device will function to its specifications in every scenario reliably. It is a very rigorous process and things are often tested to destruction.

I don't doubt this was your experience but I do doubt that the testing house that certified the Solis inverter would've let a single abnormal operation due to a type of load get past them. 

It is more likely that your inverter was faulty, at the time at least.

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