The solar photovoltaic (PV) systems market urgently needs an enabling regulatory framework, as well as support for capacity-development efforts, if the sector is to reach its full potential, said the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (Sapvia) Rooftop PV Forum, at its inaugural meeting held earlier this week.
Hosted in collaboration with the South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre (Saretec), in Cape Town, the meeting discussed how minimum national standards, as well as installer training and accreditation measures – required to support the development of this nascent market segment in South Africa – could be put in place.
Sapvia CEO Moeketsi Thobela said the industry was likely to have a clause in an updated version of the SANS 10142-1 standard, which provided for grid-tied PV, subject to the details being specified in a separate standards document.
This would support a process, spearheaded by the Department of Energy and the National Energy Regulator of South Africa, aimed at developing regulations for small-scale embedded generation, which was expected to be published for public consultation during March, and would likely be promulgated in April or May.
“It is likely that, for safety specifications, the regulations will refer to a SANS standard to clarify requirements for the licensing and registration of small-scale embedded generators. This increases the urgency to finalise these standards, as well as installer training and accreditation arrangements,” added Thobela.
Other key action items that would be undertaken included expediting the process of updating relevant technical standards for low-voltage installations; developing best-practice guidelines for residential rooftop PV installations while standards are updated; implementing and promoting a quality-assurance test for rooftop PV installers; developing a standardised rooftop PV installation report that would be issued for each residential installation; and supporting the expedited finalisation of a formal PV installer curriculum, which was currently experiencing delays in the Quality Council for Trades and Occupation’s certification process.
Saretec director Naim Rassool further highlighted how important it was for the organisation to align with the needs of industry, adding that the meeting was “extremely useful” in terms of gaining that alignment.
“Industry needs to take a value-chain approach when dealing with the issue at hand, as it is crucial that quality is implemented throughout the value chain in terms of products, installations and services rendered. In that context, we see Saretec’s role as critical in providing appropriate training services to support the sustainable growth of the industry.”