Developing a quality culture across South Africa’s Solar PV value chain

By 2030, total installed PV capacity in South Africa is expected to reach 8,400 MW. However, if we want sustainable growth, we need to ensure that we develop and implement quality infrastructure for solar PV systems.

“Embedding a culture of quality is vital if we want to unlock the huge economic potential of solar technologies”, says Richard Doyle, Managing Director at Juwi Renewable Energies and speaker at the upcoming Solar Power Africa conference in Cape Town.

Doyle will be moderating a session entitled “Minimise risk and enable quality assurance”, which will outline the steps already taken towards establishing and evolving a culture of quality excellence in the South African value chain.

Doyle will be joined by leading renewable energy experts David Raphael, Technical Director, SOLINK and Faure van Schalkwyk, Head of Solar PV Training, SUNCybernetics who will share best practice as well as international learnings that should shape and influence South Africa’s solar sector.

“When we talk about quality assurance, it isn’t just about enhancing solar technologies. It is how we improve the reliability of large solar PV systems over their productive lifetime. That is from design to installation, through operation and maintenance and of course disposal of the system. By embedding quality and safety standards, we will see maximum value delivered to the life of a solar plant. This will also reduce the risk for investors, policy makers and consumers,” says Doyle

South Africa has seen a transition from the utility scale solar PV market towards the residential, commercial and industrial (RCI) market segments. The South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) estimates that more than 1200MW of Small-Scale Embedded Generation (SSEG) solar PV projects have been installed across the RCI markets. Based on these estimations, there are some 160,000 projects completed across South Africa.

“The growth of the sector is of course to be welcomed, but with these additional projects coming on stream, it is of national importance that we ensure quality of installation, quality of connection and the quality of the energy output”

“We need to ensure that all practical steps are taken to build a culture of quality that sees manufacturers, installers and operators adhere to best practice and ensure safety and quality across the value chain,” Doyle adds

Doyle will discuss the interventions to date that have been introduced to regulate the solar PV industry, including the PV GreenCard quality mechanism as well as the Municipal SSEG Application processes and NERSA Registration and Licencing regime.

South Africa’s solar PV market is not as mature as some others, and we should look to ensure that we take the learnings and embed applicable international standards in the South African market. Countries like Germany have made sure to introduce and rigorously monitor the quality of all aspects of the solar PV value chain.

“Of course, it is vital that we take into account the nuances of the South African sector through country-specific standards, but there is a core group of international standards that have been developed that would cover every aspect of the PV value chain, from component manufacturing through to the end of the technology’s life,” ends Doyle

Richard Doyle, David Raphael and Faure van Schalkwyk are just three of the speakers at Solar Power Africa at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from 16-18 February 2022.

The conference will run over 3 days, and will include 18 sessions and over 70 speakers.  There will also be a free to attend exhibition, with over 60 top suppliers to the sector. Find more about the event at https://solarpowerafrica.za.messefrankfurt.com/capetown/en.html

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