The photovoltaic (PV) market in South Africa has been growing at a much slower pace than its international counterparts. The market is currently in a waiting phase for the REFIT programme to be implemented. Until this occurs, PV usage in the South African market will be limited primarily to off-grid applications, such as rural electrification, road signage, isolated farms and lodges and telecommunications.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (energy.frost.com), The South African Solar Photovoltaic Market, finds that the market earned revenues of $21.6 million in 2010 and estimates this to reach $29.8 million in 2014.
"The price of PV modules is falling amidst rising electricity tariffs," notes Frost & Sullivan's EPS Industry Analyst Dominic Goncalves. "The payback period is decreasing and PV technology is edging closer towards grid parity."
Key growth applications for the PV market in South Africa are currently off-grid applications such as telecommunications, isolated game farms and lodges, rural electrification, navigational buoys, water pumps, and nascent niche markets such as street lighting, billboard illumination and road signage. Currently, interest is arising from the commercial sector, where large corporate companies are installing PV to showcase their green credits.
The PV market in South Africa is reliant on the implementation of the REFIT programme as well as the proposed Upington solar park. Either of these two growth drivers would promote exponential growth for the South African PV market.
PV continues to face significant competition from other renewable energy technologies in South Africa, such as solar water heaters, concentrated solar power (CSP), and wind energy. Proposed feed-in tariffs for CSP and wind are considerably lower than PV, particularly for large-scale PV development.
For small-scale PV, solar water heating proves to be a more attractive economic option during the period 2011-2014. The support that this adjacent technology is receiving from government usurps potential growth from the PV market.
"Solar PV is presently not an attractive economic option for residential applications in South Africa," remarks Goncalves. "Solar water heaters appear a beneficial option for the consumer; currently, they represent a more viable way to reduce electricity bills and thus the strain on the national energy grid, while lessening the impact of carbon emissions."
Although the manufacturing base for PV in South Africa is currently low, manufacturers are able to produce PV modules at prices that are competitive with their European and Asian counterparts. As economies of scale will reduce costs even further, significant opportunities exist for manufacturers to set up PV manufacturing facilities in South Africa.
"Market players are awaiting the potential development of the solar park concept in Upington," concludes Goncalves. "Once this happens, a component manufacturing hub for PV would be set up for mass scale production."
If you are interested in more information on this study, please send an email with your contact details to Samantha James, Corporate Communications, at samantha.james[.]frost.com.
The South African Solar Photovoltaic Market is part of the Energy & Power Growth Partnership Service programme, which also includes research in the following markets: The South African MV and HV Cables Market, The Southern African Renewable Energy Equipment Suppliers and Overview of the South African Electricity Industry (2010 Update). All research included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends that have been evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.
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The South African Solar Photovoltaic Market / M688