Solar photovoltaic power generation is gathering momentum in South Africa as hundreds of
Megawatts of gigantic power plants are connected to the electricity grid. These plants, which
are procured as part of the government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer’s
Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), are sophisticated projects of massive scale. Now, however,
solar is showing its versatility by making electricity available to under-privileged communities
at smaller scales. The first commercial solar PV system in the township of Khayelitsha was
commissioned on the Khayelitsha Environmental Health Organisation building earlier this month by
SOLA Future Energy on behalf of the City of Cape Town.
The 17kW system is guaranteed to generate in excess of 700,000 kWh over the course of its life. Co-
founder and Managing Director of SOLA Future, Chris Haw, believes the solar system is a positive
development for the industry.
“The solar PV industry in South Africa has been driven by procurement and construction of large
power stations involving international funders. Experience and competition in those projects have
brought the equipment and installation prices down making solar PV energy cheaper than what
can be purchased from the grid as a residential or small commercial consumer. Projects like this
demonstrate the scalability of the technology and why it has such a role to play in our future supply
mix,” says Haw.
The solar system was procured by the City of Cape Town’s Department of Public Works in an effort
to make the building more sustainable and to raise awareness in the area.
Councillor Matthew Kempthorne chairs the Portfolio for Energy and Climate Change at The City of
Cape Town. “The city has a 10% renewable energy target by 2020 and projects like these will make
it possible to reach an even exceed this target. Not only is the City allowing feed-in of power by
households and businesses in the city distribution area, but we are also putting PV systems onto our
own buildings. This one of many projects that also include the installation of PV onto the Electrical
Services new head office, the Civic Centre and Gallows Hill Traffic Department,” says Kempthorne.
Although procured by the City of Cape Town the solar system is connected within the Eskom
distribution network and therefore does not stand to benefit from the City of Cape Town’s bi-
directional tariff. To be compliant it must be entirely for “own use” and therefore requires expensive
energy curtailment equipment to prevent export when there is excess solar energy.
The system includes a public display screen which showcases the performance of the plant.