Trina Solar Limited (“Trina Solar” or “the Company”), a global leader in photovoltaic modules, solutions, and services reported that solar has become a sustainable option for rural and remote areas due to the current South African power problems. The Department of Energy (DoE) plans to implement a non-grid electrification programme to temporarily supply rural communities access to limited electricity until grid connections become achievable.
With South Africa spending an estimated $7 billion, Ghana an estimated $700 million, Kenya an estimated $12 billion and Angola an estimated $23 billion on new infrastructure, the African countries are investing heavily into Africa’s chronic power problems. The power crisis affects 30 countries, which takes a serious toll on economic growth and productivity. The objectives of these projects range from aiming to increase electrification rates to rehabilitating dilapidated power grids. Africa as a whole requires 7000 MW of new power generation capacity each year and therefore African governments are attempting to make it a priority to install these power needs on a yearly basis.
On local South African soil, many remote and rural locations do not have access to the grid due to the high costs of installation, whilst areas that do have access to power are affected by the unstable electricity supply. This causes a threat to small existing businesses in townships who are affected by load shedding periods. And with the growing demand for these small traders, potential entrepreneurs are discouraged to startup due to the lack of electricity supply. As was discussed in the latest budget speech that a focal point for building economic growth and development is dependent on providing electricity to rural municipalities.
In order to protect the investment into a solar system, it is advisable to select high quality products and to review the certifications and warranties. “Sustainable power solutions rely heavily on high quality, reliable PV technology and the success of large scale projects could be jeopardised if inferior products are utilised. It is for this reason that government’s needs to ensure that they choose partners that are able to supply superior technology that is designed to withstand the harsh and unpredictable environmental conditions experienced in South Africa. Selecting a partner that is able to fulfill the quality standards and support is an important consideration as this ensures that the investment is rewarded by decades of a smoothly running solar system.
Other aspects which stakeholders need to keep in mind when implementing rural electrification is choosing a well-established bankable partner. This is critical in ensuring the system will be supported throughout its complete lifecycle and the company will not disappear from the market. “Trina Solar not only has one of the strongest balance sheets in the industry, but they also hold a solid local footprint. Having recently opened a warehouse in South Africa positions us as a dependable and reliable partner,” adds Álvaro García-Maltrás.
“Further to this, one of Trina Solar’s key strategic pillars is a very strong investment into R&D to drive innovations in the PV market and offer the latest intelligent, most efficient, cost-reducing products with minimal impact on the environment. Having received seven world records in 2014, we pride ourselves in our solar cell and module conversion efficiencies,” explains Álvaro García-Maltrás.
Examples of recent successful results of rural electrification can be seen in Bangladesh. The Bangladesh government recognised the need to improve the welfare of their rural people and stimulate the economy through the implementation of rural electrification. The project yielded positive results by increasing the income of households, lowering the rate of poverty, adding to agricultural productivity and improving off-farm income. It is interesting to note that since 2002 the project supplied more than 2 million solar home systems in the countries remote rural locations as well as supported more than 650 000 new connections to the power grid. Rural electrification continues to successfully increase the living standards of the poor in Bangladesh.
Executing a non-grid electrification programme for rural municipalities is an important step for the growth of South Africa. “We have noticed the positive impact that solar has had in South Africa and we are confident that the use of solar in remote locations will provide the country with long-term tangible benefits,” concludes Álvaro García-Maltrás.