August 2012

Dear {name}

The South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA), now in its second year of operation, recently welcomed in its new management board who were elected at the association’s second Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Johannesburg on Friday the 20th of July. Davin Chown, Director of Mainstream Renewable Power SA and Genesis Eco-Energy, as well as one of the association’s founding members, was voted in as SAPVIA’s Chairperson for the 2012 / 2013 period. Davin succeeds Chris Haw who has, until now, headed up the association as Chairperson.
SAPVIA’s new management board consists of several commissioners which includes the Chairperson. These are:  Chris Haw (Aurora Power Solutions); Davin Chown (Mainstream/ Genesis); Mike Levington (Kabi Energy); Rainer Nowak (Webber Wentzel); Ryan Hammond (Solairedirect); Tumi Mphahlele (Matajiri Projects) and Vincenzo Bellini (Soitec Solar).

Since it was established in October 2010 by its seven founding members, SAPVIA’s membership base has grown to an impressive 80 members in just over a year and a half. The graphs below illustrate this growth path:

SAPVIA has not only grown in terms of its members; the association has just recently employed an additional staff member to accommodate the growth in its membership base. On the 20th of June 2012 Rasheeqah Samodien was employed as Administrative Officer for SAPVIA. The role of the new staff member is administrative support to the Executive Manager. 
SAPVIA has also hired a technical consultant to assist with the management, and with drafting the terms of reference for SAPVIA’s research studies.
Over the past year SAPVIA has gradually been becoming self-sufficient and will, in the near future, be sub-leasing its own office space.

Networking Events
During the course of this year, SAPVIA held two networking events and a strategy workshop. The associations networking events have been growing in popularity with an average of 60 – 65 guests attending each event. The events not only provide a platform for both members and non-members to engage with each other, but the information imparted at these events by the key note speakers is always topical, relevant and informative, and the format of the events allows the guests to participate in robust question and answer sessions. Some of the most recent keynote speakers have been:

  • Mark Gordon – DEA Strategic Advisor on Energy and Climate Change
  • Gerhard Fourie, Dti Chief Director for Green Industries
  • Kevin Leask, Chief Engineer at Eskom’s Strategic Grid Planning Unit
  • Rafikh Ismail, Senior Account Manager at the IDC’s Green Industries Unit

A summary of each of SAPVIA’s networking events can be found on the SAPVIA website:
Next Networking Event
SAPVIA will host its fourth networking event on Tuesday the 28th of August. Should anyone be interested in sponsoring the event, they are welcome to contact Natalie on T: 021 418 3552; E:
On the 9th of July SAPVIA hosted a strategy workshop. The purpose of the workshop was to provide a platform for SAPVIA’s members to give their input on SAPVIA’s strategy for the year ahead in terms of Government engagement; research studies; member engagement and services provided to SAPVIA members; public relations; budget spend, etc. The outcomes of the study were translated into a formal strategy document which is available on the SAPVIA website. SAPVIA plans to host more workshops of a similar nature more regularly.
Research Studies
SAPVIA has realised the need to, and benefits of, building a body of well researched data to enable insight-based lobbying and has, over the course of the year, embarked on three research studies that delve into issues and obstacles that South Africa’s PV industry is currently facing, namely:

  • A Rooftop Solar PV Market Study – intended to help unlock the rooftop PV market in SA
  • A study on the localisation potential of solar PV and a strategy to support the large scale roll-out of PV in South Africa
  • A study that motivates for the streamlining of the application of EIA regulations to projects involving the generation of electricity from photovoltaic cells on developed land.

Grid Access sub-committee
SAPVIA recently formed a new sub-committee, namely the grid Access Sub-Committee. The decision to establish the Grid Access Sub-Committee was a result of SAPVIA’s first official meeting with Eskom’s Grid Access Unit – a unit which has been specifically set up to deal with requests from renewable (and other) projects wanting to connect to the Eskom transmission or distribution network. The primary focus of the initial meeting was to introduce SAPVIA and to set up regular feedback meetings where industry and Eskom are able to communicate current issues being faced, future development plans, changes to existing legislation/regulation, technical standards and developments on any other matters that might be applicable.
Small projects REIPPP programme
From its membership base, SAPVIA collected and collated feedback on the small projects RFP documentation and submitted an official response to the administrators of the programme.
Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) PV farm operations & maintenance qualification
SAPVIA is assisting with the formulation of an Operations and Maintenance Qualification for PV farms which is being run and managed under the auspices of the South African Renewable Energy Training Centre. The qualification will be SAQA accredited and therefore can be adopted by any qualified academic institution in South Africa that has the relevant facilities, tutors and courses. For the time being the qualification is pitched at National Qualifications Framework (NQF) level IV, which is an equivalent of an artisan qualification. The correct level will be determined during the development of the qualification.

In the Lens

First Solar’s 80MWac Sarnia Solar Farm, located in Ontario, Canada, is one of the world’s largest solar energy facilities. The project consists of ~1.3million advanced thin-film solar modules and will provide enough power to serve the needs of approximately 10,000 local homes per year. 

18kwp SolarTotal residential rooftop installation south of Johannesburg 

Low-cost housing solar solution 

Soitec’s 82kWp CPV power plant which was installed at Aquila game reserve in 2010

Wheal Jane, Solar Farm, Cornwall, UK, Development by 35 Degrees Ltd 

Solar Power installation team hard at work installing a rooftop system at Hewlett Packard 

Solar Power Africa 2012: 27 – 30 August 2012, Cape Town, South Africa
Solar Power Africa 2012 will see a gathering of power utilities, government, energy ministries, investors, energy regulators, energy efficiency bodies, IPPs and developers as they try to overcome the challenges and accelerate the pace of solar power generation in Africa. SAPVIA’s current Vice-Chairperson, Vincenzo Bellini, will give a presentation on the 29th of August titled: ‘Going off Grid – Cost, Regulation & Storage.’
PV Project Development Summit SA | 3 – 4 September 2012 | Johannesburg
The PV Project Development Summit SA focuses exclusively on PV project development, bringing together local and international stakeholders to meet and discuss how to drive PV projects forwards in South Africa, to guarantee the future growth of the industry. Chris Haw will be speaking at the event on the 3rd of September. The topic is still to be confirmed.
Renewable Energy Finance Forum SA (REFF SA) | 4 – 5 October 2012 | Johannesburg
At the Renewable Energy Finance Forum SA, Davin Chown, SAPVIA’s current Spokesperson, will take part in a panel discussion titled: ‘Raising Capital for Renewables Development – a Developers Perspective.’
The discussion will delve into:

  • Risks across the renewable technology spectrum – how they compare and mitigation strategies
  • Relying on government subsidies and how to orient your business if incentives dry up
  • Experiences in raising capital – orienting your business for debt and equity investors
  • Preparing for new capital and how to ensure good returns on your margins
  • Considering the evolution of companies in the renewable space – where to next?

Renewable Energy World Africa | 6 – 8 November 2012 | Johannesburg
Renewable Energy World Africa 2012 will feature three days of presentations and debate about the strategic challenges and technical solutions for expanding renewable energy power generation across sub-Saharan Africa where Chris Haw will deliver a presentation titled: ‘Developing a strong large and small scale Solar Industry’ on the 8th of November.