New portal displays SA’s solar installation data

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 06 Oct 2023
SAPVIA CEO Dr Rethabile Melamu.
SAPVIA CEO Dr Rethabile Melamu.

The South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA)has launched a dataportal that gives its members access to periodic data about solar installationsacross the country.

In a statement, the industry body says the project, incollaboration with GeoterraImage (GTI),was introduced this week. 

Solar is fast becoming a popular energy source due topersistent electricity shortages besetting the country.

GTI leveraged years of experience in satellite imageinterpretation and analysis to develop machine learning methods and artificialintelligence to extract solar PV panel data from satellite images.

The extracted solar PV panel data is linked to individualcadastral parcels, delivering detailed insights into solar PV panel area, kWpcapacity, solar PV uptake and land use for each parcel.

SAPVIA members will have access to provincial-leveldatasets, while members of the public will have access to a high-level, summariseddataset, the industry body says.

“Our mission is to empower our members as well as the publicsector with data-driven insights, and this portal is a significant step in thatdirection,” says SAPVIA CEO Dr Rethabile Melamu.

“By giving them access to information such as the solarpower analytics dataset, they will be able to make informed decisions, planaccurately and strategically, and it will assist them with forecasting.”

SAPVIA explains the platform is hosted online and providesaccess to data on the current and potential use of solar energy in SouthAfrica, across multiple industries, including the private sector, public sectorand financial institutions, among others.

“Our goal is to break down the data by market segment,covering residential, commercial, industrial and utility-scale installations,”says De Wet Taljaard, technical specialist at SAPVIA.

“By doing so, we aim to offer a comprehensive view of thesolar PV landscape in South Africa. The first release of data includes theperiod to the end of Q1 of 2023.”

Taljaard says this data reveals interesting insights:

  • The totalinstalled solar PV capacity as of the end of Q1 2023 was 5.5GW, made up of2.2GW of public procurement, primarily through the renewable energy independentpower producer programme (REIPPP) and 3.3GW of private procurement.
  • Theresidential market makes up 11% of the installed capacity. The rest of the small-scaleembedded generation market, of systems smaller than 1MVA, including residentialand commercial and industrial (C&I), make up 33% of the installed capacity.Systems in the range of 1MW to 50MW make up 34% of the installed capacity andutility-scale systems, larger than 50MW, make up 32% of the installed capacity.
  • From amunicipal point of view, the City of Johannesburg has the highest installedcapacity at 586MW, consisting of residential and C&I systems, closelyfollowed by Pixley ka Seme district municipality (Northern Cape), with aninstalled capacity of 583MW, made up of REIPPP projects, representing just over10% of the nation’s installed capacity.

  • The City ofTshwane boasts the largest number of residential installations at 22 956,closely followed by the City of Cape Town at 21 342. eThekwini has the largestaverage residential systems at 10.8kWp per system, followed by the City of Capetown at 7kWp.

“We are committed to maintaining the highest standards ofaccuracy and reliability, reinforcing our role as an industry authority andreliable data provider,” says Dr Melamu.

Through this data portal, SAPVIA hopes to showcase thediverse applications of the collected information.

The organisation says the approach is designed to attractinterest from various stakeholders. This includes investors looking foropportunities in the solar sector, policymakers seeking data-driven insightsfor informed decisions, researchers conducting groundbreaking studies, and thegeneral public eager to understand the impact of solar PV installations on ourenvironment and economy.