South Africa’s changing commercial PV landscape

According to the African Solar Industry Association (AFSIA) Annual Solar Outlook 2023, South Africa achieved an installed PV capacity of 111.8MW in 2022. And it is not residential systems we have to thank for this impressive figure…

AFSIA’s research is based on large-scale and commercial and industrial solar installations, as well as mini grids and solar home systems (SHS) — telling us just how strong the demand for solar was for businesses and organisations last year.

This information will prove vital in helping installers understand the commercial PV market and anticipate demand from non-residential end-users in the coming months, as businesses have plenty of financial and environmental reasons to take advantage of new incentives despite load shedding dipping below Stage 6 this June.

So, here is a summary of the information AFSIA collected about South Africa’s commercial PV capacity, a glimpse into what it might look like at the end of this year and a product recommendation from none other than Pylontech…

Rising uptake all-round

AFSIA’s Annual Solar Outlook shows that the total amount of PV capacity installed for the four types of commercial projects it collected information on was dominated by two types.

The first type of PV project, large scale, hit 2864.78MWp + 500 MWe CSP last year. Otherwise referred to as utility-scale installations, there are no set conditions determining which projects qualify under this label. However, to give you an idea of how large these systems are, they usually produce well above 20MW of solar energy — enough to power entire communities, towns and cities, not just single homes or businesses.

Behind large-scale PV projects in terms of installed capacity are C&I projects, which include any ground-mounted or rooftop system that is designed for businesses and organisations with large buildings in need of solar power. Because these projects might only produce 10MW of energy, they accounted for less than half of what large-scale projects did last year: 483.34Mwp.

As for the commercial PV project types that accounted for the smallest proportion of national installed capacity last year, it was SHS at 5.18MWp and mini grids at 0.74MWp. Although these types of systems are much smaller than the first two, the drastic difference between these figures indicates that the country is leaning towards bigger systems to put an end to the energy crisis.

Whether South Africa will beat last year’s figures by the end of 2023 is hard to tell, especially with such an unpredictable national grid. However, we do know this: it is a good time for businesses to transition to solar power…

Catering to demand

The government has recently announced the expansion of its renewable energy tax incentive for commercial customers, in which organisations can reduce their taxable income by 125% of the cost of an investment in renewables. As part of this incentive, businesses can also claim a 125% deduction on their renewable investments in the first year, and projects of all sizes are eligible — making it more cost-effective than ever for organisations to transition to solar power.

If that is not enough reason for businesses to keep investing in solar power this year, there are also other motivations that will remain pertinent even if load shedding becomes a thing of the past. Fossil fuels will always be costly, unreliable and environmentally damaging — all of which are incompatible with what it takes to stay afloat in the modern world. And there are bound to be new green energy consumption rules to contend with as climate change worsens.

As such, installers should keep their portfolios equipped with PV products that can supply commercial customers with the stable energy supply they need, like the Powercube H2 from Pylontech!

This 3.552kWh, 48V battery features a modular and scalable design, facilitating easy system expansion for the most powerful of commercial systems. It can support between five and 12 modules per rack and up to six racks per parallel without compromising on safety, thanks to its battery management system (BMS) with protection from charge, current and temperature abnormalities. Plus, as it is built with lithium-ion phosphate (LiFePO4) cells, it is safe, efficient and long-lasting.

Moreover, the Powercube H2 can be stored in a PowerTower™ battery cabinet and lockable door kit, which feature a heavy-duty construction, ventilation and premium finish — all whilst being quick and easy to install. It is the whole package!

If you would like to stock up on commercial PV solutions from Pylontech this year, log in or sign up for an account on the portal. It is free and gives you access to our entire range of solar products…