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$1.1-Million Foreign Investment Boosts Solar Energy Manufacturing in South Africa

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Luis Monzon
Luis Monzon
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The South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) reports that it has welcomed the investment decision by Italian-based firm Enertronica Santerno to expand its manufacturing activities in South Africa.

SAPVIA is the industry body representing solar PV (photovoltaics) in South Africa.

The Italian firm, which has been an active player in South Africa over the past 10 years, will be investing up to R17-million ($1.1-million) to enhance the capability of manufacturing inverters for solar photovoltaic applications, including storage solutions, with a maximum initial production capacity of more than 500 MW per year, gradually ramping up to higher capacity targets.

The inverters will achieve a designated local content value higher than 40%, therefore exceeding the minimum requirements for public procurement. Activities to practically implement the plan are already in place a will be finalised in the next 5 months.

A Viable Renewable Energy Sector

Welcoming the news, Niveshen Govender, SAPVIA COO, said, “This significant investment shows the massive potential for the solar PV market here in South Africa. The fact that we are attracting international investors shows the viability of our renewable energy sector both in terms of financial return as well as the capability of our workforce to deliver best-in-class manufacturing.”

“Post-COVID, we will require foreign and local investment to drive the economic recovery and transform our energy infrastructure to meet current and future requirements. This investment will also contribute to South Africa realising the full, transformational potential of its solar PV market.”

“Localisation, upskilling and a focus on ensuring true South African participation across the value chain is vital if we are all to benefit from the full rewards of the REIPPPP (Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme),” Govender says.

According to Luigi Guerra, Country Manager of Enertronica Santerno, “the Group has already successfully implemented manufacturing activities in the RSA in various sectors associated with renewable energies. In 2013, in fact, a production plant was built (and then successfully dismantled) for the manufacturing of supporting structures for photovoltaic panels which supplied steelworks for around 400 MW of panels.”

“Subsequently, inverter-based power stations for a total capacity of around 600 MW were locally built with a 58% local content, making Enertronica Santerno one of the leading local producers in South Africa in its own market sector.”

“Government must continue to act in the interest of South Africans”

Govender emphasised that the “Government must continue to act in the interest of South Africans, and we await confirmation from the DMRE and DTIC (Department of Trade, Industry and Competition) that legislation will be implemented to ensure that projects are able to meet the localisation requirements for Bid Window 5 of the REIPPPP. We need certainty, sustained procurement, and a consistent approach to developing the local manufacturing market segment.”

“SAPVIA will continue to actively engage with our members to ensure that we are proactively seeking to attract additional investment, both foreign and local, to drive local manufacturing capabilities so that we can fully realise the capacity requirements of the South African market, both currently and in future procurement rounds. This enables the country to realise the full economic and industrialisation potential of the uptake of RE,” Govender says.

“After a period of decline, where investors felt hesitant to move forward with local manufacturing, due to the lack of certainty from government, we are now seeing the green shoots of a South African RE manufacturing sector. With this confidence, we hope to see additional investment, local job creation and of course upskilling of local workers.”

“We cannot afford to let this opportunity pass and we look forward to working with the government to deliver not only our energy needs, through sustained and consistent procurement of renewable energy, but also job creation and sustainable employment through a commitment to localisation,” Govender concludes.

Edited by Luis Monzon
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