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Commercial Rooftop Solar: Renewable Energy’s New Buzz Phrase

  • 9/6/2017 10:59:00 AM
Commercial Rooftop Solar: Renewable Energy’s New Buzz Phrase

There are many natural resources Africa has a shortfall of. Water, perhaps being one of the most critical. When it comes to sunlight and wind however, the hottest continent on the planet will literally blow you away, so to speak. Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, and South Africa in specific, are ideally located to get the most from solar initiatives. And although there are many underway, it is commercial rooftop solar systems that are making the most waves on this front.


A commercial rooftop solar system is exactly what the name suggests, photo voltaic (PV) panels on the roof of malls, offices and industrial parks. Since 2014 Clearwater Mall in Johannesburg, Gauteng has been relieving its reliance on electricity through a rooftop system. Initially a 500kWp system was installed, but in September 2015 another 1000kWp was added, and now a further 1 404 kWp. As a result the mall will not only be able to generate 15% of its energy usage from the system but it will also be able to cut back its carbon footprint by over 930 tons annually.


Another mall that is at the forefront of solar is Middelburg Mall in Mpumalanga. In partnership with Moolman Group and Flanagan & Gerrard Property Development & Investment (F&G), the mall will be installing a rooftop solar system on 15000m2 of roof space. On completion, which is scheduled for December, this initiative will supply 7% of the mall’s power and help the mall reduce its CO² emissions with 1 080 tons per year.


JZ Moolman from Moolman Group, a property investment enterprise, told that: “Not only has the cost of installing Solar PV decreased significantly in recent years making an increasing amount of installations financially viable, but it also ticks many other boxes such as environmental and social responsibilities. In addition to generating clean energy, a Solar PV Installation generates jobs, during and after the installation in the form of operations and maintenance contracts and will continue to do all of the above for at least the next 25 years to come.”


If one looks at the successes achieved with solar in Australia since 2008, it is easy to see that the future for solar is very bright indeed. The country boasts a massive 6013 megawatts (MW) of rooftop solar PV systems installed to date, 568MW of which has been mounted in this year alone.


Commercial rooftop solar has also given rise to multiple innovative business strategies as companies and individuals alike realise its investment potential. Nesa Investment Holdings (NIH), for example, a fund that invests in a portfolio of commercial rooftop solar projects has recently opened its second round of fund raising after the first raised R10.7-million. The second round is set to gain R85-million.


AGE Technologies is proud of our two latest commercial rooftop solar projects. We recently teamed up with Energy Capital on a grid-tied 35kwp system, and also completed a 161,200kwp carport-mounted grid-tied system for 1 Cyber Building in Mauritius. Read more about these in their respective articles.


Did you know*?

  • In 2016 South Africa was ranked 1st for its addition in concentrated solar power.
  • South Africa is the first country on the African continent to achieve 1 GW of solar PV and helped to push the continent’s wind power capacity above the 3 GW mark.
  • Solar PV was the star performer in 2016, accounting for around 47% of the total additions – the equivalent of more than 31 000 panels installed hourly – followed by wind power at 34% and hydropower at 15.5%.
  • Renewable Energy in SA attracted R195-billion into the country, leading to the creation of 26 790 jobs.
  • South Africa has some of the highest solar irradiance in the world and experiences some of the highest levels of yearly horizontal solar irradiation globally.
  • According to market analysis by PQRS (PQRS, 2017), by the end of 2016, estimated PV installations in South Africa were already at 218 MWp.
  • Woolworths has reduced its relative energy consumption by 42% thus far.


*Quick facts by WWF South African Report