Electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa intends to ask the Chinese government to help ensure that solar-power installers secure reliable access to panels as demand for alternative sources of energy grows in South Africa.
Minister’s Visit to China
Ramokgopa will visit China this week to meet six of that nation’s biggest solar equipment manufacturers. The goal is to make it easier to import panels amid ongoing blackouts in South Africa.
Increasing Demand for Solar Power in South Africa
South African businesses and households are increasingly opting to reduce their reliance on the grid. This is due to state-owned Eskom subjecting the country to daily power cuts because its old and poorly maintained coal-fired plants can’t meet demand.
Limited local production of Solar Panels
There are only two solar panel manufacturers in South Africa. However, they’ve committed all their output to major projects being implemented by mining companies. All other panels are being imported from China, according to Ramokgopa.
Request for the acceleration of supply
Ramokgopa mentioned in an interview that it still takes three to four months even when there is a supply. He plans to ask the Chinese manufacturers if they can accelerate the supply for South Africa.
Constraints on equipment imports
Backlogs and a lack of efficiency at South Africa’s ports could also constrain equipment imports. This is an issue the government has said it’s addressing.
Financing options for Solar Panel installation
The minister has met with four of the nation’s biggest banks to discuss their financing options for clients who want to install rooftop solar panels. The Government Employees Pension Fund is also finalising a funding offering for its members. Additionally, the state is considering alternatives for lower-income households.