Big changes for inverters and solar in Cape Town next month

 ·15 Sep 2023

The City of Cape Town says that all grid-tied energy generators need to be authorised – and from October 2023, all small-scale solar energy generator systems will need a city-approved inverter and professional clearance to get approval.

The city said that this applies to all solar PV and battery systems connected to the wiring of the building.

It does not apply to the trolley inverters, for example, that plug into wall sockets. These are regarded as electrical appliances.

The city noted further that applications for standby and off-grid systems will not be accepted. From October 2023, standby systems will no longer be allowed.

According to the city, national legislation and regulations require the authorisation of all power-generating systems connected to the electricity supply.

“Authorisation requirements have been around for almost a decade and the city continues to work to refine processes to the benefit of customers,” it said.

The increased levels of load shedding have resulted in a significant increase in solar and inverter installations, it said, but not all of these installations are done correctly, posing risks to the grid.

The city said it has received large volumes of applications for approvals for these systems, but because there are so many different types of configurations, this has caused delays in the authorisation process.

“Currently, many systems using non-approved inverters are not wired correctly, posing risks to the safety and integrity of the network.

“This significantly slows down the registration process because there are too many different wiring configurations for the city professionals to consider. Reducing the wiring configurations speeds up the process,” it said.

The city said it is working to shorten authorisation approval times, including appointing more staff for faster turnaround, and is in the process of developing an online application tool, which should launch in early 2024. To date, the city has authorised almost 6,000 systems.

However, with this, comes some significant changes.

From 1 October, only systems using city-approved inverters with professional sign-off will be authorised, it said.

All systems will be regarded as grid-tied. This will dramatically improve the authorisation turnaround time, improve safety, prevent the risk of area outages due to inferior systems connected to the grid and help to protect our homeowners from the many fly-by-night operators out there.”

Pre-October authorisations and applications will remain valid and be processed, but priority will be given to grid-tied systems using city-approved inverters.

A guide on the process can be seen below:

Read: Two big problems for rooftop solar in South Africa

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