Rooftop solar PV nears grid parity – without subsidies
By J Ward, Powermode
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Electricity+Control, May 2013 (pages 38 – 39)
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Solar technologies are broadly characterised as ‘passive’ or ‘active’ depending on the way they capture, convert and distribute solar energy.
Passive solar techniques include orienting a building towards the sun, selecting materials with favourable thermal mass or light dispersing properties or designing spaces that naturally circulate air.
Active solar techniques include the use of photovoltaic (PV) panels and industrial-scale solar thermal collectors to harness the energy.
The solar PV industry, in particular, has witnessed a number of dynamic changes in the last 12 to 18 months. Because solar panel or ‘module’ prices have fallen significantly, solar PV technologies now present a potentially disruptive change in the energy scenario.
In South Africa, solar PV has the advantage that, once grid parity is reached and the domestic installation market developed further, solar installations at public and private sector sites (factories, assembly plants, learning institutions) could be ramped up to meet government policy goals including electricity needs for informal settlements and disadvantaged communities.
No other power generation technology shares this flexibility. In the short term Nevertheless, solar energy is one of the most promising contributors, as technology is improving at a rapid pace and prices for solar solutions are falling dramatically.
- There is now an excess production of polysilicon, leading to significant opportunities.
- PV costs are plummeting.
- In many areas of South Africa, PV provides a genuinely justifiable solution.