Solar photovoltaic (PV) projects could reach grid parity in South Africa by 2015, Eskom technology division research, test and development acting GM Barry MacColl said on Tuesday.
He told the second yearly Solar South Africa Conference, in Sandton, that PV was almost at the point of achieving grid parity without storage, particularly in higher consumption applications. If storage was added to the equation, high- and low-consumption applications (household and industrial) could also reach parity by 2015.
Although South Africa's solar irradiation positioned it well to take advantage of PV power, high capital expenditure for installations and the high cost of capital were hampering local growth of PV. But MacColl pointed out that such costs would decline, as PV volumes in South Africa picked up.
Globally, Germany and Italy were driving solar PV growth, achieving a compound yearly growth rate of 80% in recent years. Even though growth was expected to slow, it would remain in the high double-digit numbers, he said.
Small and medium-sized installations were dominating the market, while the utility scale was gaining momentum.
MacColl further stated that a sudden turndown in the PV industry was, therefore, significantly less likely than in 2005.
Eskom was in discussions with the Department of Energy regarding the structuring of net metering tariffs of PV rooftop installations.
Meanwhile, he said Eskom was still pushing ahead with the 100 MW solar plant in Upington, in the Northern Cape, which would be commissioned in 2016. The project was on track and within budget.
The utility would put out the request for tenders in 2013.