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South African property and solar PV industries take bold step towards improving energy security

On 10 April 2015, the South African Property Owners Association (SAPOA) and South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the aim being to collaborate on the use of solar PV in improving energy security.

SAPOA is the representative body and official voice of the commercial and industrial property industry in South Africa. SAPVIA promotes the growth of the solar PV sector, and represents the collective voice of key players in this sector.

The MoU will allow the two organisations to leverage their respective members’ capabilities and resources in improving energy security in the commercial and industrial property sectors. This will be achieved by facilitating the installation of solar PV systems on roof-tops at shopping malls, as well as office and industrial parks around the country. The implementation of the MoU will be overseen by a Coordinating Committee consisting of representatives from both SAPOA and SAPVIA.

Commenting on the agreement, Neil Gopal, SAPOA’s Chief Executive Officer said: “Given the current energy constraints in the country we welcome this and any such initiatives to address the challenges facing South Africa.”

Moeketsi Thobela, SAPVIA’s CEO, concurred: “This builds on a number of initiatives that have seen embedded PV generation capacity increase rapidly from 10MW to more than 30 MW. The synergies represented by this agreement are enormous, including the fact that both the demand from SAPOA members’ property portfolios and solar PV generation tend to peak during the day.”

Neil Gopal (SAPOA CEO) and Moeketsi Thobela (SAPVIA CEO)

Neil Gopal (SAPOA CEO) and Moeketsi Thobela (SAPVIA CEO)

This momentous development takes place in the context of an upward trend in the price of electricity generated from traditional sources, compared with the downward trajectory of solar PV-based electricity. In the long-term, the installation of PV systems puts a sustainable and environmentally-friendly “ceiling” on electricity price increases. Once PV systems are installed, the “fuel” is free.

While the use of solar PV solutions in the commercial and industrial sectors has seen a marked increase recently, the agreement between SAPOA and SAPVIA offers a unique opportunity for these solutions to be scaled up. Over time, this increases the scope to introduce and deepen innovation in decentralised energy generation. Similar positive effects on skills, local manufacturing of PV components and enterprise development are expected. These effects will be realised through business-to-business interactions among the associations’ members and their commercial partners, as well as information-sharing.

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