City goes online to improve solar approval turnaround

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 14 Mar 2024
City of Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis.
City of Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis.

The City of Cape Town has introduced an online portal dedicated to authorising solar photovoltaic (PV) system applications.

This comes amid a solar power boom in Cape Town, with over 5 000 solar PV systems authorised to date, totalling 126MVA (mega-volt amperes), reveals the city.

Additionally, the city says monthly applications tripled between 2021 and 2023.

Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis yesterday launched the online Energy Services Applications platform at an event with solar industry stakeholders, hosted by GreenCape in Cape Town.

“We pledged to remove obstacles to solar power investment, and to make more of our services digitally available, and that’s exactly what we’ve done,” said Hill-Lewis.

“Capetonians can now get a much faster turnaround on permission to install a solar PV system. With the city’s new online Energy Services Applications platform, you can apply, track your status and get approval in a shorter timeframe.

“Incentivising widespread take-up of safe, grid-tied solar PV is a key part of Cape Town’s plans to lessen Eskom reliance and end load-shedding over time. The city is looking to buy as much excess solar power as residents and businesses are willing to sell via the Cash for Power programme, under which Capetonians can earn municipal bill credits and cash.”

According to the city, all solar PV energy systems that can generate electricity and power households must comply with regulations and be registered prior to installation.

It notes that authorising solar PV systems is a safety requirement, as fires and power outages can be caused by inferior, unauthorised PV systems, which also endanger frontline workers maintaining the city’s electrical grid.

Beverley van Reenen, mayoral committee member for energy, explains: “The city has already halved the wait for permission-to-install letters by only accepting grid-tied SSEG systems using city-approved inverters, for the safety of our customers, our city teams, private installers and our grid itself.

“We have also streamlined the process to get inverters onto our city-approved list, making the verification of applications easier and faster.

“Now, the new Energy Services Application portal will automate the issuing of permission-to-install letters for certain types of applications, such as small residential solar PV and battery systems, vastly reducing turnaround times.

“The portal is integrated with our extensive city databases to seamlessly link property information and electrical supply data for the vetted service providers signing off the installation.

“If residents already have a pending application, there is no need to re-submit. The city will automatically upload all existing applications, which will allow us to fast-track those that have not yet been processed.”

For the application process, residents are required to first register or log-in via e-Services and activate the “energy services” tile in order to access the Energy Service Applications portal.