The ever-changing landscape of PV

Solar energy is not what it once was. Gone are the days of renewable energy feeling like a futuristic, unattainable power source.

In fact, solar is cheaper than ever, and the world of PV is experiencing exponential growth across the globe.

So, how far has solar come in recent years? And where is it expected to go in the future>

A history of solar

There is no doubt that solar is one of the fastest-growing and most competitive renewable energy technologies — but it has not always been this way.

The first monocrystalline silicon solar cell was developed less than 100 years ago in 1941, with the mass production of solar cells taking off in 1963. Only in 1985 was a record of 20% efficiency achieved for these cells.

Today, researchers are creating technologies reaching nearly 50% efficiencies using layered structures of different materials or focusing sunlight onto the cells using mirrors or lenses to amplify the sun’s intensity.

As such, in less than 40 years, it is expected that the global installed capacity of solar will reach a staggering 8,519 GW by 2050 — sixfold the 480 GW of 2018.

What’s more, the IEA confirmed at the end of last year that solar is officially the ‘cheapest electricity in history’, with the technology costing less than polluting sources such as coal and gas in most countries. This accessibility means there has never been a better time for authorities worldwide to invest in solar energy for a greener future.

A promising future for South Africa

South Africa is widely heralded as an ideal location for solar. With one of the world’s highest irradiance levels and vast open space, this form of renewable power is perfect for addressing the country’s ongoing power shortages. And SegenSolar is proud to be a key player in South Africa’s uptake of solar.

According to recent research by Mordor Intelligence, the South African solar market is expected to reach an installed capacity of over 3.6GW by 2026 — nearly double that of the 1.48GW in 2019. Of last year’s additions, 813 MW came from large-scale PV plants and 500 MW from distributed generation systems. Roughly 20% of this new capacity came from residential-scale installations, with the commercial and industrial sector making up the rest.

Despite a minor slowdown in demand following the outbreak of COVID-19, the installed capacity of solar in South Africa grew by 37% in 2020. This growth can be attributed mainly to the investment in utility-scale solar projects, coupled with the decline in the cost of solar equipment. For example, in August 2021, the government officially raised the licensing threshold for embedded generation projects from 1 MW to 100 MW.

Of course, one of the primary motivators for South Africa to adopt solar is the country’s current power shortages, as the demand for continuous power regularly surpasses the available supply. At present, state-owned power utility Eskom is unable to meet South Africa’s current demand due to its weak energy infrastructure and financial commitments.

In exciting news, 63 solar projects are set to compete in South Africa’s 2.6 GW renewables tender in a bid to shift reliance on Eskom for power to cleaner energy sources such as wind or PV. 

Our commitment to the cause

The core of SegenSolar’s ethos is our commitment to ensuring solar energy is accessible to installers, wholesalers, homeowners and business owners across South Africa. Our dedication is evident in our partnerships with leading industry bodies such as AFSIA, with which we regularly host free webinars promoting the benefits of solar to installers, far and wide.

We also work closely with leading PV brands, such as Pylontech, Solis, Renusol and KODAK, to provide free online training on installing their award-winning solar products with accuracy and confidence.

An exciting development

We are delighted to announce that we have entered into an agreement with Labora Group. Labora will acquire 100% of The Segen Group Limited and its subsidiaries in the UK, Germany and South Africa.

The transaction is expected to close mid-October, subject to regulatory and other approvals and conditions. Labora and Segen will remain separate and independent companies until the closing of the proposed transaction, subject to customary interim period undertakings and all closing conditions being met.

Following the transaction’s closing, Segen will be a subsidiary of Labora, with the benefit of new scope and scale that will increase opportunities for our loyal suppliers and customers.

Are you a homeowner or business owner keen to get involved with solar? Perhaps you are a solar installer looking to purchase high-quality PV products and refine your installation skills. Contact us for more information or create an account on the installer portal to get started today.