Home Opinion and Features Solar panel shortages due to logistics, shipping bottlenecks

Solar panel shortages due to logistics, shipping bottlenecks

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The demand for alternative energy solutions in South Africa is surging amid the ongoing power crisis, while the country braces for the 18.65% energy tariff increase set to take effect from April 1, 2023.

File picture: Pixabay

SOUTH Africa has been seeing anecdotal accounts of solar panel shortages in the country, largely contained to residential and small commercial installations, according to the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (Sapvia).

The demand for alternative energy solutions in South Africa is surging amid the ongoing power crisis, while the country braces for the 18.65% energy tariff increase set to take effect from April 1, 2023.

Sapvia CEO Dr Rethabile Melamu in response to a Business Report enquiry on reported solar shortages in the country said: “Large commercial and industrial EPCs (engineering, procurement and construction) procure panels in the multi-MW scale and would have predicted and planned for any increased demand.

“However, no formal communication from either our panel OEM (original equipment manufacturer) members or from our supplier and distributor members have been circulated.”

She said the market forces of supply and demand should even out within the next couple of months to ease the supply shortfall.

Melamu said the only bottleneck facing the importation of solar panels were shipping and logistics.

“Furthermore, the lack of adequately trained installation teams poses a risk to the implementation rate of projects. This is unfortunately a longer-term supply bottleneck that must be addressed.

“Sapvia has seen unprecedented demand for the PV green card training, one example of an industry-led quality assurance and skills development platform for Solar PV installers,” she said.

The Department of Minerals and Energy failed to responded to Business Report’s questions on solar at the time of publication.

This follows Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana’s announcement in his Budget Speech in February that starting this month, businesses would be able to reduce their taxable income by 125% of the cost of investing in renewables.

Individuals who installed rooftop solar panels from March 1 would also be able to claim a rebate of 25% of the cost of the panels, up to a maximum of R15,000.

This could be used to reduce their tax liability in the 2023/24 tax year. This incentive would be available for only one year.

Ben Bierman, managing director of Business Partners, said recently, “As per this year’s Budget Speech, the government is to provide solar-related loans to small to medium-sized enterprises as part of an amendment to the Bounce Back Loan Guarantee Scheme that was implemented as a measure to help small businesses recover from Covid-19-related losses.

“Furthermore, as part of these developments the government will allow commercial banks to mobilise funds in the scheme to lease solar-energy equipment to SMEs countrywide.

“Business owners can expect to hear more about how to access solar-related financing by May, 2023, and are urged to watch the news pages of banks and other financiers on how to apply,” he said.

The economy is expected to shrink deeper into troubled waters after gross domestic product (GDP) growth fell below pre-pandemic-levels in the final quarter of 2022 on the back of intensified load shedding.

Data from Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) had earlier revealed that GDP shrank by 1.3% in the fourth quarter after rallying to an upwardly revised 1.8% rise in the third quarter.

BUSINESS REPORT

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