13 March 2013 – South African interest in photovoltaic (PV) technology has heightened since the launch in 2011 of the government’s South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP). Through this initiative, the government aims to procure and install 1.45 GW of PV capacity by the end of 2014.
The first South African owned solar PV module manufacturer, ART Solar, has been established and its KwaZulu-Natal manufacturing plant, with equipment from Swiss manufacturer – Meyer Burger Swiss Solar Systems − is geared to produce about 250,000 PV modules or approximately 75 MW/year. These modules can be 48, 60 or 72 cell modules, with a glass-backsheet or with a glass-glass construction.
“An advantage for the local market is that funding for renewable energy projects is available. South Africa will also benefit from noting the faults and successes of solar power projects implemented around the world,” Mark Walsh, managing director, ART Solar, says.
“The sun is the only resource needed to power PV panels and the silicon used in the manufacture of PV cells is an abundant and non-toxic material. PV modules produce no noise, no harmful emissions and no polluting gases. These modules can be recycled, which means materials used during manufacture are reused.
“Other important features include easy installation and low maintenance requirements. ART Solar offers a 25 year guarantee for its modules, which have an estimated 40 year service life.”
PV panels are designed for large scale power plants, mines and rural electrification, as well as industrial and residential roofing. Modules with enhanced aesthetics are manufactured for residential and commercial installations. ART Solar provides extensive technical skills training for the production team and installers to ensure absolute reliability of every module and hence a sustainable local business, with local employees.