Residential solar panel installations on the decline

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The rate of installations of solar energy systems has gone down significantly in the residential market segment in the past three months with no load shedding compared to the same time last year. This is according to the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA), which represents about 800 companies in the solar energy space.

The organisation says the decrease in the commercial segment of the market was not as severe as that of households. SAPVIA says the frequency and intensity of load shedding and access to finance are the main drivers of solar energy acquisition amongst the residential market segments.

South Africans have not experienced load shedding for almost three months, a welcomed development for many. SAPVIA says the main driver for demand of alternative energy solutions over the last year and a half has been load shedding.

Customers in this segment are usually high-income households looking to protect themselves from the inconvenience of power cuts. SAPVIA says there has been a notable decrease in demand for such solutions this year, due to the constant electricity supply.

They say this coincided with the usual increase in demand of solar energy solutions in the winter months as power demand increases, but this has not been the case this year. Demand in the commercial segment has remained robust, however, as businesses strive to secure energy reliability and the control of input costs.

“On the residential sector market segment, absolutely, the rate of installations has decreased significantly compared to the same period last year when we were experiencing stage 3 or 4 of load shedding at this time of year. However, the commercial and industrial side, there isn’t that much of a decrease, maybe 20 to a 30% decrease in the commercial and industrial side but we see the residential market segment, like I mentioned the frequency and intensity of load shedding really is the biggest driver on the residential side, what forces people to put solar on their roof or battery in their garage is they just reach a point where they can’t stand load shedding anymore,” says De Wet Taljaard from SAPVIA.

It has been over 75 days of no-load shedding and Eskom says this is due to improved generation capacity.