FAQs

How can I become a member?

To become a member of SAPVIA all you need to do is complete and submit the membership application form by clicking on the following link:

On the membership application form you will be requested to select a membership category to belong to. The below table describes the membership benefits and related fees for the various membership categories:

Membership Category Voting rights High voting weight Low voting weight Eligible to be voted onto Manco Company logo on SAPVIA website SAPVIA logo on own company website May advertise on SAPVIA online business directory Membership Fees per annum
Full X X X X X X R 36 570
Associate X X X X X R 12 190

Once you have completed and submitted your application form you will receive your invoice from our Administrative Officer, Kim. Once your payment has been received, Kim will send you your welcome letter and will assist you with the activation of your membership.

7 reasons to join SAPVIA

  1. Access to key up-to-date information
  2. Networking opportunities
  3. Invitations to SAPVIA workshops
  4. Benefit from the off-spin of SAPVIA’s PR campaign
  5. Access to the Global Solar Council
  6. Improve your company’s profile and visibility in the industry
  7. Opportunity to influence policy

How does Solar Photovoltaic's (PV) work?

Solar PV systems generate electricity by converting sunlight directly into electricity. The PV cell consists of one or two layers of a semi conducting material, usually silicon which – when light shines on it – creates an electric field across the layers causing electricity to flow. An added benefit of solar PV modules is that they last for 25 years and require almost no maintenance.

Most of the world’s solar modules are made from crystalline silicon, (or sand in its basic form). As greater quantities of solar modules are produced worldwide at greater efficiencies, the cost of solar PV keeps becoming more and more competitive.

For a comprehensive visual on how solar panels work, watch this short Ted-Ed video by Richard Komp (2016).

Classification of rooftop PV systems

The most common way to differentiate a solar rooftop installation is via the connection to the electrical load/grid.

Grid tied / connected with reverse power blocking

The property is connected to the national grid in order to receive electricity, but any surplus electricity generated by the system is prevented from being directed back into the grid.

Grid tied / connected

Electricity generated can be used at the property and any surplus can be directed back into the grid. In some cases, this feed-back is compensated for.

Off-grid / standalone

The PV system generates electricity for use on-site, and operates completely independent of the national grid. In this case, it necessary to have additional components such as a charge controller and battery storage.

How does CSP work?

Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) plants use mirrors to concentrate (or focus) sunlight and convert it into heat in order to create steam which is used to drive a turbine that generates electricity.

The energy produced by a CSP plant (called thermal energy) can be stored and used to produce electricity when it is needed, day or night.

What is REIPPPP?

The Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme, otherwise known as the REIPPPP, is a programme developed to encourage private investment to help further develop the renewable energy sector within South Africa. In line with the national commitment to transition to a low carbon economy, the national renewable energy target is for 17 800MWs of the 2013 target. Of that, 5 000MWs is to be operational by 2019 with a further 2 000 MWs operational by 2010.

The REIPPPP has been designed not only to contribute to meeting the national renewable energy target, but also to encourage foreign investment and develop socio-economic and environmentally sustainable growth. Bidders are therefore required to bid on tariff as well as the identified socio-economic development objectives of Government.

The REIPPP Programme has been designed to be of a rolling nature with determined MW s being procured through a continuous programme of bid windows, timed as such to ensure at least one bid window every year or subsequent year and with each bid window prompted by the release of a specific Request for Proposals (RFP) in the market.

The REIPPPP comprises of a utility scale programme and a small scale (or small projects) programme. For the utility scale programme project size limits have been set for the different technologies, for example: 75MW for solar PV, 100 MW for CSP and 140 MW for wind.

The small projects programme is for projects less than 5 MW in size and is aimed at emerging, smaller power developers with an emphasis on South African and SME participation in projects. 

Technologies included in the utility scale and small scale REIPPPP include:

Utility Scale REIPPPP Small Scale REIPPPP
Onshore wind Onshore wind
Concentrated solar thermal Solar photovoltaic
Solar photovoltaic Biomass
Biomass solid biogas
Biogas Landfill gas
Landfill gas
Small hydro

 

Some of the REIPPPP’s achievements as of September 2016 include:

  • 6 376 MW of electricity has been procured from 102 renewable energy (RE) Independent Power Producers (IPPs) in six bidding rounds;
  • 2 378 MW of electricity generation capacity from 51 IPP projects has been connected to the national grid;
  • 11 064 GWh of energy has been generated from renewable energy sources procured under the REIPPPP since the first project became operational (making a 15% contribution to morning and evening system peak periods);
  • 28 484 job years have been created for South African citizens (or 32 323 jobs (FTEs));
  • Socio-economic development contributions of R256.2 million have been made;
  • Carbon emission reductions of 11.2 Mton CO₂ has been realised by the programme inception to date.

Reference: IPPPP Quarterly Report: 30 September 2016

The REIPPPP is proving to be extremely successful in assisting to meet South Africa’s energy needs while at the same time mitigating slowed economic development growth due to unpredictable provision of power. The programme also encourages foreign investment, as well as a number of socio-economic benefits due to job creation and skills development.

How many MWs of renewable energy are currently connected to the grid?

2 378 MW of electricity generation capacity from 51 Renewable Energy IPP projects has been connected to the national grid. Utility scale solar PV REIPPPP projects have contributed 1203.6MW to that figure.

How long does it take to build a nuclear/coal/PV plant?

Nuclear Plant:
It is typically expected to take 5 to 7 years to build a large nuclear unit (not including the time required for planning and licensing). However, it is not uncommon for nuclear power plant constructions to experience delays and research by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Power Reactor Information System (PRIS) of 441 operational reactors including the date of build start and the date of grid connection, shows the average construction time to be 10 years.

Source:
Nuclear Energy Agency press room: https://www.oecd-nea.org/news/press-kits/economics-FAQ.html
Energy Matters: http://euanmearns.com/how-long-does-it-take-to-build-a-nuclear-power-plant/

Coal Plant:

Solar PV:
In South Africa, the average construction time for a utility scale solar PV plant is between 10 and 24 months (excluding the time required for planning and licensing), making it one of the quickest power technologies to construct.

What is base load?

The base load (on an electrical grid) is the minimum level of demand on that grid over a 24 hour period (i.e.: the basic amount of electricity that is always required). A base load power plant produces a continuous supply of electricity to satisfy this minimum demand.

Examples of base load power plants are coal-fired power plants; geothermal power plants; tidal power plants; nuclear power plants; etc.

What is peak demand?

Peak demand (or peak load) is the daily fluctuation of electricity use. It is usually lowest in the early hours of the morning (when most people are sleeping) and highest in the early evening (when most people and restaurants are cooking and using their stoves and other appliances, and many people are showering / bathing and using their geysers).

Is the base load argument still a relevant argument against renewables?

Currently in South Africa ‘base load’ is being used as an argument as to why the country needs new nuclear build, rather than investing in more renewables.

The typical argument is that when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining, renewable power sources such as solar and wind aren’t producing electricity and the question then raised is what happens during these times when we need energy? The usual response is that we need something more reliable that produces electricity all the time (i.e.: base load)… like nuclear and coal fired power plants.

There is a large body of thought that believes renewable energy technologies such as solar PV and wind are not able to provide base load power. However, this is far from the actual truth! In Germany, certain states are operating with 100 percent renewables and their dependence on outside base load power stations is very small – proving that not everyone depends on base loads.

Another myth is that renewables are unreliable. This is not strictly true. Yes, electricity production drops when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine, but with a good mix of renewables such as gas, wind and solar and with the addition of battery storage – you will be able to have a consistent and reliable source of clean energy.

Reference: http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/articles/2016/10/why-everyone-is-talking-about-baseload-power.html

How are renewables financed?

Utility scale solar PV plants

Funding is provided through a variety of foreign and local private equity, large commercial and development banks, as well as local private equity funds for black economic empowerment purposes to represent surrounding communities. By the end of September 2016, the REIPPPP had attracted investment (equity and debt) to the value of R194.1 billion, of which R53 billion is foreign investment.

Residential, commercial and industrial PV systems

In South Africa residential, commercial and industrial PV systems (otherwise known as RCI projects) are typically financed by the entity purchasing the project, either through a property bond or some other form of asset finance. However, long term lease financing options are appearing in the market that mimic PPAs, but avoid the regulatory barriers of selling electricity.

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