Solar pv

Solar PV can save businesses up to 16% in electricity costs, meaning systems can often pay for themselves within 3-8 years of installation, states GreenCape.

This article originally appeared in Issue 2 2018 of our print magazine. The digital version of the full magazine can be read online or downloaded free of charge.

In South Africa’s Western Cape Province the installed solar PV capacity as of Q2/2017 was 38MW. To identify how financially viable solar PV installations are for businesses, a number of factors must first be established, including:

• Installation size: larger projects produce cheaper electricity as fixed costs, such as design and specification, are spread over more panels.

• Technology choice and exchange rate: prices still vary and some components need to be imported.

• Location, roof type and direction: influence the amount of sun reaching the solar panels.

• Financing model: depends on the client’s risk profile or financial standing.

• Current electricity tariff: solar PV’s viable increases as electricity tariffs increase.

• Consumption patterns: Eskom charges a peak rate during periods of highest use (typically, in a business context, during the day). Generating one’s own electricity (also most effective during sunny periods) results in greater savings.

What are the returns?

In a modelling exercise performed by GreenCape based on actual industry costs, an approximate payback period of five years is achieved for a 100kWp system (see Figure 1). As solar PV systems have an average lifespan of 20-25 years, this can mean 15-20 years of free energy.

Want to know more?

Access the full industry report from the GreenCape website on or email