ESI AFRICA - South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) board member, Frank Spencer, offers insight into the current African rooftop PV market.

The growth of rooftop grid-connected Solar Photovoltaic (PV) systems, has exploded in South Africa, and the rest of Africa is likely to follow shortly.

Once considered an expensive way to generate electricity, solar PV systems deployed onto residential, commercial and industrial rooftops, can now generate electricity that is cheaper than that provided to customers by national electricity provider Eskom.

Rooftop PV shows promise

Spencer estimates that the rooftop market has grown from just a few installations totalling an estimated 3MW in 2010, to over 200MW to date over thousands of individual installations, with an expectation of as much as an additional 80MW to be added in 2016.

Although Eskom and municipalities still do not make it easy for owners of solar PV systems to connect their systems, and in some instances even prohibiting the use of such systems, the market is still growing exponentially, with many customers ignoring the attempts of Eskom and municipalities to slow down the growth.

Nevertheless, the regulatory space is slowly adapting to allow for privately owned generation, although it still predominantly allows for self-consumption options only, where the owners of the solar PV system need to consume all the energy themselves.

Should it become possible to sell back to the grid, as is being piloted in Cape Town, this growth rate is bound to accelerate further.

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