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Photovoltaic technology is one of the fastest growing industries in the world and for manufacturers of solar panels, sunny South Africa is an exciting solar market. This is helped by the fact that the country is an importer of solar technology, with no local manufacture of solar cells taking place.

This could change.

After a gap of almost twelve years, Professor Vivian Alberts, who developed a innovative thin film solar technology at the University of Johannesburg between 1993 and 2002, has established a demonstration plant for the production and marketing of a thin-film photovoltaic technology, used in solar panels, at the Technopark in Stellenbosch.

This is in partnership with German engineering company Singulus Technologies, an expert in manufacturing optical discs, semiconductors and crystalline and thin-film solar cells.

Their objective is to commercialise the technology in South Africa and establish a fully-fledged photovoltaic manufacturing industry in this country.

The timing could be fortuitous. After a slow start, the South African government has become increasingly supportive of solar technology. The government’s target of building 8.4 gigawatts of solar photovoltaic capacity by 2030, combined with the success of its large-scale tendering process in attracting investment to fulfil that goal, positions the country as the most attractive emerging PV market globally, according to analysis by IHS Technology.

As the renewable energy programme grows in scale and credibility, so has local procurement requirements. To be eligible for IDC funding, companies participating in the government’s REFIT programme have to commit to 70% local content in their installations. continue reading


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