Renewable Energy/Solar Research in South Africa and Zambia


South Africa

  • The White Paper on Renewable Energy (2003) set a target of 10,000 GWh of energy to be produced from renewable energy sources (mainly from biomass, wind, solar, and small-scale hydro) by 2013
  • In 2009 the African Development Bank approved $12.5 million investment in the Evolution One Fund, the first specialized private equity fund focused on the acceleration and deployment of clean energy and sustainable technologies across southern Africa
  • Local suppliers and manufacturers are reluctant to tie funds up with expensive green stock and resources amidst the global financial crisis – many complex green building projects are being outsourced abroad
  • The DOE has established a target for renewable energy production at 10,000 GWh by December 2013 – 6,000 GWh of this target is expected from on-grid electricity generation
  • The Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariff (REFIT) was developed by NERSA to support the introduction and development of renewable energy options

o Phase 1 focuses on wind (R 1.25/kWh), concentrated solar (R 2.10/kWh), land-fill gas (R 0.90/kWh), and small hydro plant (R 0.94/kWh)

o Phase 2 focuses on concentrated solar power trough w/o storage (R 3.14/kWh), solid biomass (R 1.18/kWh), biogas (R 0.96/kWh), photovoltaic systems – large ground or roof mounted (R 3.96/kWh), and concentrated solar power – central tower w/6 hours of storage (R 2.31/kWh)

  • According to NERSA (2009) the key principles that under pin the establishment of the REFIT in SA include:

o Guaranteed access to the national grid

o Guaranteed purchase price for a fixed duration

o An obligation to purchase and to discharge the power generated

o Burden sharing of the additional cost throughout electricity consumers

o A dynamic mechanism that reflects market, economic, and political developments

o The potential to set a cap on the max available subsidy per year

  • Under REFIT (renewable energy feed in tariff) in 2009 PV installations larger than 1 MW are eligible for financing at R 3.94/kWH, a later revision of REFIT may see the incorporation of small-scale PV installations (electricity from PV systems is still thought to cost more than electricity from other renewable energy technologies including concentrated solar power or wind)
  • In 2009 a draft of the SA National Solar Water Heating Framework and Implementation Plan was presented highlighting a target of 1 million SWH within the next 4.5 yrs., and a vision for 5.6 million installations by 2020
  • The 2010 Industry Policy Action Plan published by the Department of Trade and Industry supports the SWH industry via subsidy programs, amended national building regulations making SWHs, and other energy efficiency building requirements, compulsory, and DTI incentives and Industrial Development Corporation industrial financing will be leveraged to support investment and increasing manufacturing and installation capacity in the SWH value chain
  • The DoE has the sole mandate to promote the use of renewable energy, initiate projects and to advance the use of renewable energy and annually monitor the precise quantity of energy produced from renewable energy


  • Renewable energy sources remain insignificant to the overall national energy supply
  • Development plans based on the Energy Policy 1994 have put more emphasis on grid hydro-electricity than other renewable energy technologies
  • The Ministry of Energy and Water Development (MEWD) estimates the potential energy output for solar to be 5.5kWh/m2/day
  • The Rural Electrification Authority (REA) was created to promote the utilization of appropriate alternative rural electrification technologies in order to enhance economic activities in rural areas
  • 2007 the REA commenced the Solar Energy Program as part of its rural electrification strategy – aims at putting solar PV installations at various public and social institutions

o NGOs, churches, private sectors, and Government ministries have been involved in the dissemination of solar energy technologies – MEWD has incorporated the use of solar in its rural electrification program – 400 households have been installed with PV systems under the Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) pilot project in three districts of Eastern Province (several schools and Chief’s Palaces have been installed with solar)

  • 2008 the Ministry of Finance and National Planning suspended Duty and Value Added Tax on solar PV panels, batteries, etc. to make solar systems more affordable to rural populations