As preparations for the first ever Africa Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition (AfricaPVSEC, March 27-29, Durban, South Africa) build a head of steam, anticipation is growing for what will be the African continent's inaugural PVSEC event.
As the solar PV industry continues to make great strides through vast swathes of Africa, international companies have begun to treat the domestic market seriously, spotting a number of opportunities to build upon the inherent natural advantages namely, high levels of solar radiation that the continent boasts.
With economies all over Africa gaining confidence and structure, energy demand is rising: demand that cannot be met by traditional power sources alone. This new reality is one of the key themes of the forthcoming show, a message being underscored by increased collaboration between local energy companies, the African scientific community, and the wider global PV industry.
"In Africa, the same PV panel can, on average, produce twice as much electricity than in Central Europe," said AfricaPVSEC technical program chairman, Arnulf Jäger-Waldau. "Grid parity is already possible in South Africa. This means investments in solar technology pay off."
Small- and large-scale potential
Currently, according to Jäger-Waldau, the brightest PV potential in Africa lies in the small-scale home systems market, where there is immense potential. With expensive and often dangerous off-grid power sources prevalent in homes and villages right across Africa, solar power now represents an affordable, clean and potentially abundant replacement source of energy.
Just a few years ago, solar energy in Africa was viewed as an expensive luxury. Not any more, says Jäger-Waldau, who adds that solar is the only real option Africa has in combating rising prices for oil, gas, coal and uranium.
For South Africa itself, the country has even grander ambitions, having set a target of adding 8.4 GW of PV capacity by 2030. The introduction of a large-scale tendering process has attracted global investment, so much so that IHS recently scored the market 66 out of 100 in the IHS Emerging PV Markets Attractiveness Index 2013, placing the nation in the top-three emerging PV markets globally.
Such potential will likely prove a hot topic at AfricaPVSEC, which has been set up to provide an international platform for Africa's solar market, offering excellent networking opportunities, technology showcases, workshops, keynote speakers and a range of exhibitors from all over the world.
AfricaPVSEC's Conference Program is being coordinated by the European Commission, DG Joint Research Centre.
For more information, visit www.africapvsec.com
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