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GoSolr launches “light paper” on the state of South Africa’s solar industry | Partner content

A rooftop solar system
Picture: Pixabay

Radical steps must be taken to secure South Africa’s energy supply – and solar will be key in driving this, the country’s leading residential solar provider, GoSolr, says in its first quarterly update update on the industry. The “light paper” distils the current conversations about solar and renewable energy, interrogates the latest stats and key issues, and shines a light on the energy generation issues that face South Africa.

“We developed the GoSolr quarterly solar update as a means to intentionally interrogate what is happening across the renewable energy space. We wanted to identify the issues and opportunity therein to tackle not only the ongoing energy crisis, but also to look ahead to better ways to power our vibrant nation,” says GoSolr co-founder and CEO, Andrew Middleton.

“South Africa has an energy problem. We don’t produce enough, it costs a lot of money and what we produce has a profoundly bad impact on the environment. Solar offers a viable solution to mitigating this crisis and without it, our energy crisis would be much worse,” he continues.

While 2023 was a record year for rolling blackouts, the paper shows that without rooftop solar alleviating demand on the national grid, the energy shortfall would have 44% worse than it was.

“South Africa ranks third in the world as having the best solar potential, and it’s becoming accessible to more people. The scope for growth and benefits are incredible – cost savings, clean and secure energy, job creation and more. We are however being hampered by inconsistent and fragmented national policy, regulations and tariffs,” Middleton says.

The index points to outdated national policy that is governing the industry and the many players that are driving the implementation of it. Policy currently also differs from province to province and this is unlikely to change soon, even as differing promises regarding energy and tackling climate change are being made by political parties’ manifestos.

“Radical steps must be taken to secure our energy supply and policymakers must align and take bolder steps. We must take immediate measures to support a more robust and decentralised energy grid, reduce dependency on centralised power, sources, and mitigate the impact of load shedding,” says Middleton.

The index is not all doom and gloom though. The paper sheds light on the developments in renewable energy solutions, innovations in how we use power, and increased scope for clean, sustainable energy that can directly impact the continued energy crisis.

“The burgeoning solar industry in South Africa stands as a beacon of opportunity, powered by abundant sunlight, technological advancement and declining costs. By harnessing the power of the sun and enacting robust policies, South Africa could lead the way and illuminate a path towards a greener, more prosperous future for all,” Middleton concludes.

Key findings of the GoSolr quarterly update include:

  • The state of solar – our cost-of-lighting is in crisis: Solar offers a viable solution and 5,440 MW of energy derived from rooftop solar has been added to South Africa’s grid as of March 2024. Despite this, in 2023, South Africa’s electricity demand exceeded supply by some 16 terawatt hours.
  • On the reality of regulatory changes – our patchwork policy problem: With NERSA, government, Eskom, and 257 metropolitan, district and local municipalities operating in a near-siloed manner, the many players and inconsistent regulatory frameworks have resulted in a patchwork policy problem, while energy tariffs and electricity prices continue to rise.
  • From obstacles to opportunities: Of the 17.8 million homes in South Africa, only about 124,000 (0.69%) have rooftop solar. This is despite the fact that South Africa ranks third in the world as having the best solar potential. If we successfully moved the industry in the right direction, decarbonising South Africa’s power sector could create some 145,000 net jobs in the next two-plus decades, while opening up key business ventures needed for installation, maintenance, and managing end-of-life solar solutions.

For more information on the GoSolr Quarterly Solar Update, or to download a copy, visit www.gosolr.co.za.

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