Conergy’s Cape Town array at parity with grid

Cape Town Solar Array

A Conergy installation in Saudi Arabia. Courtesy Conergy.In an increasing number of markets around the world solar, particularly photovoltaics, are increasingly coming into parity—price equality—with the price of electricity available on the grid. Case-in-point. German-based PV manufacturer Conergy announced yesterday (April 30) that it entered into South Africa’s solar market with a recently completed 62 kilowatt PV system at Cape Town’s and the country’s first solar array at a home for disabled people and that the power produced by the series of rooftop arrays is producing power at prices below grid parity. The system was installed for Conergy by Solsquare.

“For end consumers such as the home in Cape Town, solar energy is already cheaper than electricity from the grid today,” Conergy said. “One solar kilowatt hour from the plant on their own roof costs the home operators around 0.81 South African rand, while they pay an average 0.94 rand for each kilowatt hour from the grid. They will thus be saving around 13 South African cents or 16 percent of the cost with each solar kilowatt hour they consume.”

The array will also save the home additional money thanks to Eskom, the state’s energy supplier. Eskom has been encouraging energy saving to reduce the amount of power it needs to produce during peak hours. Under the scheme, for each kilowatt hour of electricity saved during peak load time Eskom offers a rebate of 1.20 rand. “As the plant does not feed power into the grid, the volume of electricity saved is calculated from the amount of electricity generated by the solar plant during peak load hours,” Conergy said. 

The system at the 48-person facility (with 12 caretakers) consumes all the electric onsite and isn’t subject to the country’s feed-in tariff. In South Africa’s summer months, it will provide about 70 percent of the facility’s electric needs and 45 percent in the winter, according to Conergy. The system is also one of the first projects with “automated output power management”, which prevents solar power being fed into the grid in line with Cape Town city regulations, the company said.

“South Africa is a very interesting solar market with great potential,” said Jörn Carstensen, who manages international market development at Conergy. “The market is still at its very beginning, but we are expecting strong growth in the future. In addition to the highly complex state subsidy bidding system REIPPP (Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme), there is also a grid parity market developing, which will be independent of subsidies. We believe that the future lies in this market, and we are therefore focusing on this segment in collaboration with our strategic partners,” he said.