Positivity reigns at Power & Electricity World Africa 2014 show

The heavy downpours in Johannesburg were unable to dampen the solar mood during the opening day of the Power & Electricity World Africa 2014 exhibition in South Africa, where it was positivity that reigned instead.

pv magazine can confirm that more than 100 solar companies have exhibited at the show on the first day this year, representing a 20% increase on last year, according to the show organizers.

The presence of European and Chinese companies that had made the trip to Johannesburg’s Sandton Convention Centre was obvious, with a particular proliferation of top inverter and panel manufacturers dotted about the exhibition floor.

Many of the exhibitors whom pv magazine spoke to reported increased market activity from South Africa, with JA Solar, Trina Solar, Yingli, Solarworld and Canadian Solar all revealing buoyant local interest. Equally, SMA, ABB, Fronius, Kaco, Ingeteam and Bonfiglioli have so far enjoyed a brisk opening to the exhibition, with plenty of interest shown in their products.

Each company pv magazine spoke with is expecting growing interest in both the utility scale solar sector and the self-consumption sector, driven by rooftop and residential applications. "We see a growing demand for energy management applications," said Silvia Blumenschein, head of sale EMEA at German-based Solare Datensysteme, a company that is exhibiting for the first time in Johannesburg.

There is also a high presence of foreign equipment manufacturers at the exhibition, such as Schmid, Meyer Burger and Mondragon. These companies are banking on the widening of domestic content rulings in the bidding process for utility scale projects, and also the continued high-profile that solar currently enjoys in South Africa, particularly as the sector continues to create much-needed local employment.

Solar in South Africa is currently being driven by a growing energy demand, rising electricity rates, declining solar equipment costs and a political push for more renewable energy. Chief hurdles include bureaucratic red-tape and the powerful opposition interests of the nuclear and fossil fuel industries.

Solar, though, has more than held its own at the show so far, with the promise of more exciting developments to come over the next few days.

pv magazine will bring you more reports on the show over the course of the week, and is exhibiting at booth H8B – if you’re in town, come and say Hi!