The South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) has launched a new data portal that provides its members with access to periodic information about solar installations throughout the country.
Developed in collaboration with GEOTERRAIMAGE (GTI), the project utilizes advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques to extract data about solar photovoltaic (PV) panels from satellite images. This data is then linked to individual cadastral parcels, offering detailed insights into factors like solar PV panel area, kW capacity, solar PV adoption rates, and land use for each parcel.
SAPVIA members will have access to provincial-level datasets, while a summarized dataset will be available to the public.
Dr. Rethabile Melamu, SAPVIA’s CEO, stated that the portal aims to empower members and the public sector with data-driven insights, aiding in decision-making, planning, and forecasting.
The online platform will provide a wealth of data on the current and potential use of solar energy in South Africa across various sectors, including private and public, financial institutions, and more. It aims to break down the data by market segment, covering residential, commercial, industrial, and utility-scale installations.
According to SAPVIA technical specialist De Wet Taljaard, the data revealed that South Africa had a total installed solar PV capacity of 5.5 GW as of the end of the first quarter of 2023. Of this capacity, 2.2 GW came from public procurement, primarily through the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), while 3.3 GW came from private procurement.
Residential installations accounted for 11% of the installed capacity, with small-scale embedded generation systems (smaller than 1 MVA), including residential and commercial and industrial (C&I), making up 33%. Systems with capacities ranging from 1 MW to 50 MW contributed 34%, and utility-scale systems larger than 50 MW made up 32% of the installed capacity.
In terms of municipalities, the City of Johannesburg had the highest installed capacity at 586 MW, followed closely by the Pixley ka Seme district municipality with 583 MW, mainly from REIPPPP projects. The City of Tshwane had the most residential installations at 22,956, with the City of Cape Town close behind at 21,342. eThekwini had the largest average residential systems at 10.8 kWp per system, followed by the City of Cape Town at 7 kW.
This collaboration aims to establish SAPVIA as a trusted authority in solar PV data and showcase the diverse applications of the collected information for stakeholders, including investors, policymakers, researchers, and the general public interested in understanding the impact of solar PV installations on the environment and the economy.