Solar provider Solana Energy says that South Africa is experiencing a residential solar installation boom, with households importing over R2.2 billion worth of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels in the first five months of 2022 alone.
According to the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) – once this installation capacity is installed, it will surpass over a decade of what the government has been able to procure in solar energy.
“With solar now becoming a regular feature for businesses of all shapes and sizes, residential users are investing in solar installations, and this growth is being accelerated due to prolonged load shedding,” Solana said.
The group noted that the high cost of the initial investment to set up solar remains a barrier to entry for households, but new offers and ranges are constantly being brought onto the market, while financing options are also increasingly becoming available to homeowners and small businesses to have solar installed.
Richard’s Bay solar boom
Solana announced the next phase of its partnership with South32 in Richards Bay – one of South Africa’s most important economic hubs for aluminium production – which will see the development of renewable energy skills and generation projects for industrial and commercial users in the region.
“We think this is one of the most unique renewable energy projects in the country at the moment,” says Ahmed Motara, head of Business Development for Solana Energy.
“From the funding model right through to the skills development and new venture creation elements, we believe that this project could serve as a blueprint for renewable energy partnerships across South Africa.”
The project comprises three distinct elements aimed at capacitating the renewable energy ecosystem:
- Four new solar generation projects for key South32 suppliers in the region
- A solar energy training academy
- The commencement of pre-funded solar installations for the residential property market in Richard’s Bay
Solana and South32 identified key businesses in the region and are collaborating on the rollout of 2.5MW of generation projects that are aimed at suppliers of goods and services to South32 and other businesses in the area.
These projects are expected to be online in early 2023 and will support the creation of much-needed jobs in the region, Solana said.
The second aspect of the partnership is developing the necessary skills to build solar projects in the region, the group said. The group soft-launched an academy in September 2022 for developing the requisite skills for solar installations in both the Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business-to-Consumer (BTC) markets.
The first graduates of these courses are already coming through, and further courses and certifications will be made available in 2023, it said.
These developments lead into the third element of the partnership, which is leveraging the solar boom in the country and bringing it to households and residents.
Through its network of installers and growing presence in the region, Solana said it will be providing qualified electricians to meet the growing demand for residential solar installations, and these jobs will be supported long-term through operation and maintenance support on an ongoing basis.
As part of the project, Solana said it will offer a range of flexible financial options to homeowners and small businesses to have solar installed.