embedded generation
Solar panels used for self generation are one of the ways buildings can not only become more energy secure, but mitigate the risk of load shedding. Image: Pixabay.

The South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) has endorsed last week’s announcement by the South African president to raise the licensing threshold for embedded generation plants to 100MW.

SAPVIA considers the move a watershed moment for industry in South Africa. By developing policy to enable further increases in the uptake of embedded generation, the solar PV industry will be better able to increase energy accessibility, availability and security which the South Africa economy so desperately needs, SAPVIA said in a press release.

Niveshen Govender, SAPVIA COO, described the announcement as a strong signal from government that everyone has to work together to overcome the energy crisis the country finds itself in: “Being a strong proponent and long-time advocate for this SAPVIA is delighted that the President has considered, reflected and acted on the advice from various sectors to raise the licensing threshold and has seen fit to do this with appropriate haste during a time of crisis.”

“This move will deliver much needed clean electricity rapidly to businesses and individuals across the country while creating opportunities for sectors such as agriculture, mining, hospitality and commercial properties to generate their own electricity and relieve the pressure on Eskom,” said Govender.

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Govender pointed out SAPVIA will continue to support a just energy transition that leverages the country’s abundant natural resource with a specific focus on solar PV which the Association firmly believes represents the least-cost, quickest-to-build, quickest-to-commission option of all renewable energy technologies.

“The solar PV sector, as our solar PV jobs study demonstrates, carries significant job creation opportunities for South Africans across its wide value chain. This increased licensing threshold will unlock more job creation opportunities within the sector.”

Embedded generation could be a game-changer for SA C&I sector

“This announcement will pave the way to the development of a more robust commercial and industrial market segment, with assumed growth of 500MW per year from private distributed solar PV generation. The potential impact here could be game-changing for the economy with local participation at a global standard, creating jobs and potentially seeing the creation of more, successful, locally-owned SMEs,” said Govender.

He did caution that the process to implement the directive will have to be carefully considered from a central energy planning, system operator and management point of view. “It will be critical, for the full realisation of the sector’s potential, for the DMRE to ensure clarity on the terms of the exemption as these should also include projects that are selling or trading electricity back to the grid, as has been widely called for by industry. For this increase to have the impact we desire of increasing capacity and ameliorating load shedding. We need to work in partnership with the private sector to fully capitalise on the opportunity this threshold increase presents us with.”

Govender urged NERSA, Eskom and municipalities to move quickly to ensure that the expansion of the distributed generation supply is implemented smoothly.