Starting from October 1, significant changes are coming to Cape Town's solar and battery backup installations, impacting both current and prospective users.
These changes are being introduced in response to the “administrative challenges” faced by the City of Cape Town in processing small-scale generation applications for solar energy.
In July, the City recorded an unprecedented surge in applications, receiving 1,000 submissions in a single month.
However, a significant portion of these applications were deemed improper, leading to the decision to overhaul the application process.
One of the most notable changes is that all new applications will be considered "grid-tied." This means that individuals seeking to install all SSEG systems, including solar systems or battery backup solutions, will be required to use City-approved inverters. This is a big change, as many inverters currently available on the market will not be permitted within Cape Town's supply area.
It is worth noting that this applies to solar PV and battery systems connected into wiring of the building.
It does not apply to the trolley inverters that plug into wall sockets as these are regarded as electrical appliances.
City's Mayoral Committee Member for Energy, Councillor Beverley van Reenen, said this move will result in a number of improvements.
“This will dramatically improve the authorisation turnaround time, improve safety, prevent the risk of area outages due to inferior systems connected to the grid and help to protect our homeowners from the many fly by night operators out there. The improvements we are bringing to the table means authorisations will be faster and safer, which means customers can protect themselves from load-shedding quicker.
Moreover, applicants will need to secure the sign-off of an ECSA-registered professional for the installation.
This will will incur an additional cost, estimated to be between R5,000 to R10,000, on top of the installation fee.
Furthermore, individuals considering connecting an inverter to their distribution board will also need to undergo the new application process. Solar panels, batteries, battery backups, and inverters (excluding UPS) will all be classified as grid-tied installations.
However, there is good news. There is a grace period for installations involving batteries or solar batteries applied for before October 1. These installations will continue to follow the existing processes, offering options such as grid-tied, off-grid, standby, passive, and more.
It's expected that other municipalities may follow suit with similar regulatory changes.
These adjustments have not been met with approval, as some South Africans question how they will alleviate the “administrative burden” faced by the City and expressed doubts about the value of embedded generation in light of these changes.
South Africans have called on the Democratic Alliance and the City of Cape Town to answer on why these changes are implemented when so many are already struggling financially.