More than 1000 PV installations in South Africa? April 2015

PV industry growth and demand – South Africa

The most extensive list of privately owned installed and commissioned pv systems  in SA has seen significant growth since Jan 2015. The ongoing list is being created with a number of goals in mind.

  • Showcasing local privately owned solar PV installations
  • Data collection
  • Monitoring growth and development of the sector
  • Understanding the PV sector in SA (residential and commercial)
  • Promoting the sector
  • Training

Showcasing installations

The industry needs to be able to showcase its achievements and what better way than to promote the number of systems that have been installed locally even if they could be considered insignificant then compared to European installation figures. The fact of the matter is; in order to grow to thousands of installations, you have to take the first step and start with one, and then another one, and so on. With this we are not claiming that all installations have been fail proof or that installer companies did not end up paying school fees on faulty installations or made costly mistakes. Listing of these systems were not intended to focus on mistakes, but rather on the number of installations that have been done and whether in some way the data could be used to derive a realistic value of the total number of estimated installations locally.

Data collection

94 installations done by 34 contractors on systems >=100kWp produce 29,3MW

61 installations done by 27 contractors on systems >=30kWp<100kWp produce 3,46MW

257 installations done by 33 contractors on systems <30kW contribute only 1,68MW of the total installed capacity. This <30kWp category represents 4% of installations when measured against listed & installed generation capacity and 62% of the total number of installations.

It could be expected that the solar pv installations in South Africa should accept a type of pyramid profile with less larger installations at the top and the smaller installations forming a large base at the bottom. If it is then considered that we currently have a list of 120+ contractors involved with solar PV installations and the above figures are used to determine the total installed capacity, the following calculations could be applied.

An average of 7,79 installations have been done by companies in the sub 30kWp range. If this value is applied over 120 contractors + additional unlisted installations within the other categories, there could very well be more than 1000 grid tied PV installations in SA producing an estimated 40MW – 50MW of energy.

At the time of writing the article there were approx. 415 listed and locally installed solar PV systems which excluded utility scale projects. In essence the 415 systems were primarily grid tied and generated a combined 36,5MW.

Monitoring growth and development

The public visibility of larger installations at the top tier may be the result of EPC’s marketing and promoting installations through various forms of online and print publications. Smaller contractors have declined to make information available as they are cautious of being reprimanded by utilities for doing illegal installations. Furthermore there are companies who do not wish to disclose activities in this sector for a variety of reasons. It may be of interest to note that newer companies seem to be more successful in securing larger alternative energy projects opposed to companies that have been operating in the alternative energy sector pre 2000.

Understanding the PV sector in SA

The number of organisations interested in the growth and development of the sector is broad based and varies from individuals interested in approaching the sector, academics, industry bodies, international corporations seeking new regions for investment, utilities, municipalities and suppliers of products to name but a few. Data as indicated becomes a barometer for growth and guides industry on further development by providing information that aids an understanding of growth and development patterns within the sector.

Promoting the sector

Graphs and information contained in this article would therefor naturally promote the technology and support ongoing investment by parties who might not be convinced about the performance of the technology locally.

Training & Development

Further to a host of benefits contained in data, only by understanding the growth, development and investment in a particular sector, could the need for training be established. Training when guided by certain standards form the backbone of any industry and defines the boundaries to which installations are done and products selected. Skills are transferred to a generation that would see the continued rate of adoption for a specific technology based on solid principles which need to be accepted and understood by industry.

PQRS (Power quality and renewable services) aims to establish itself as a leader in training and development of the pv sector in SA. The bulk of the data available on this site is information which currently cannot be found anywhere else in SA and is made available to industry at no cost in order to promote the technology and indirectly all stakeholders concerned. Visit for the latest on standards, training information, data on growth and solar pv development in SA. Get the latest information on suppliers, products, installers, and EPC’s.

Without the support from industry providing the data would not have been possible and we see new contractors & installations being added to the list weekly. There is no cost for adding systems and it is foreseen that the data currently being collected will have to be submitted to the local municipalities and or Eskom in the foreseeable future in any event as the utilities are considering mapping geo data in order to understand the PV generation load on transformers and infrastructure.

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