South African solar boom

South Africa is experiencing a boom in solar installations, with over 4,400 MW of rooftop solar installed in the country outside of the government-procured solar. This is expected to increase by 420% by 2030. 

This was revealed by PwC in its South Africa Economic Outlook for August 2023. The financial advisory firm noted the positive economic impact of the private sector’s investment in alternative energy sources. 

PwC said the strong increase in the number of jobs created over the past 12 months reflects a growing resilience of private companies against the negative impacts of load-shedding. 

Data from Eskom and Professor Anton Eberhard revealed that South African households and businesses had installed 4,400 MW of rooftop solar PV.

Eberhard posted data from Eskom, which showed that the country’s installed solar rooftop PV increased from 983 MW in March 2022 to 4,412 MW in June 2023.

This 349% increase in solar rooftop PV significantly reduced the residual load that Eskom needs to meet during the day.

Furthermore, this allows companies to continue to operate during outages, reducing the impact of load-shedding on lost trading hours. 

The import of solar panels also hit a new record, with R8.4 billion worth of panels being imported in the second quarter of 2023, over double the amount imported in the year’s first quarter. 

The value of imports in the first half of 2023 is more than the entire value imported in 2022, which was R5.6 billion. 

R12 billion worth of solar panels have been imported by South Africans so far in 2023, adding 2,200 MW of capacity to the grid. 

Source: Gaylor Montmasson-Clair, based on data from TradeMap and Quantec

PwC said electricity costs, supply interruptions, and the need to procure green power have become strategic drivers of alternative energy investment by South African firms.

In addition to the rapid growth in rooftop solar, South Africa has around 2,300 MW of embedded (on-grid) solar generation capacity. 

The vast majority of this is from Independent Power Producers (IPPs) who have fixed-term supply contracts with Eskom. 

PwC expects embedded solar capacity to increase by between 110% and 420% by 2030. Their baseline scenario sees embedded solar capacity increasing to 3,700 MW in 2025 and 5,800 MW by 2030. 

The firm anticipates that residential solar capacity will grow 5.4% annually for several years. 

Operation Vulindlela is tracking a pipeline of 10,000 MW in private-sector energy generation projects. 

PwC said the positive impact that this will have on the country’s overall power supply and business operations makes for a more positive economic growth outlook for 2024 and beyond. 


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