Working hard to develop the industry

Davin Chown, the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association’s (SAPVIA’s) chairperson, says the recent signing of the 27 power-purchase agreements has ushered in many a sigh of relief. What happens next with the Expedited Round, the Small IPP Programme and the IRP (which will be up for another round of consultation before being made public in August) is part of SAPVIA’s ongoing engagement with government and the IPP Office.

To build an industry, create the jobs, bring in more investment and skill up more people South Africa needs to see an “order book”, Chown says. As part of SAPVIA’s representation on the BUSA Energy Task Team it will be part of the NEDLAC IRP process expected to be conducted before final gazetting.

Small-scale embedded generator registrations

Much has been said over the last week or so regarding the set of regulations that have caused such a stir in the industry. The reaction from many quarters has been driven by emotion. Some of the reaction has been based on a poor understanding of what is happening or going to happen regarding these proposed regulations.

According to Chown, the association is working with NERSA and the DoE team to find a workable solution to the current blockages. Many long hours have been spent by Jo Dean, Niveshen Govender and the legal teams who have given significant time pro bono to assist us, and the various colleagues at NERSA and DoE. Although we have not seen eye to eye on everything, the opportunity to work together to develop an outcome that we can all live with, and that will help to build our industry, has been extremely valuable.

One of SAPVIA’s watch words is collaboration. Sometimes this is hard, and often we do not all agree on the desired outcome of these processes. In this case, what the association wants is for the DoE and NERSA to find ways to enable this industry and not stifle it. It is important, Chown says, that the ingenuity, creativity, and innovation emerging from the sector – which is sorely needed in our economy – to be penalised or restricted. Collaboration is critical for all of us to move forward constructively.

SAPVIA has produced a position paper to articulate its concerns, needs and views regarding the registration process. This paper will be circulated to all of its members for comment and will be used as the basis for ongoing work with government. The association is keen to work with DoE on crafting a set of rules and regulations, and a mechanism to help give effect to the decisions emerging from our collective deliberations.

Whilst NERSA has effectively withdrawn the rules for registration of installations below 1 MW, no one knows what will come in its place, or at larger scale.

Global solar council

SAPVIA met the chairperson of the Indian Solar Industry Federation, Pranav Metha, during Africa Utility Week. It was agreed that the two organisations would work together through the various BRICS fora, and the International Solar Alliance (with 130-member countries) to strengthen relations between our respective associations and our respective governments. Inter-governmental meetings to be held in South Africa will provide a platform for discussions regarding this sector. SAPVIA will work with Metha and the members of the Global Solar Council, of which we are a member, to organise the bilateral engagements between the two countries.

Contact Kim Thomas, SAPVIA, Tel 021 200-5856,


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