The private adoption of solar photovoltaic energy in Ekurhuleni Municipality, South Africa

Akoon, Ibrahim
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As a developing nation, South Africa has many responsibilities to the people living in its borders, including enabling access to clean, reliable and affordable electricity. The need for new energy resources becomes even more important in the context of a growing urban population. Due to the failures of the state-owned enterprise, Eskom, there has been a decrease in urban energy resilience. Thus, many electricity users are looking towards other sources for their power supply. As renewable energy becomes more affordable, individual households and small companies are adopting solar energy, via photovoltaic panels and solar hot water systems, to provide a portion of their energy needs. This mode of power generation takes advantage of the high quality South African solar resource, and its decentralised nature enhances energy resilience at the individual consumer level. This research quantifies the rate of uptake of photovoltaic panels and solar geysers over the period 2010 – 2019, in three contrasting neighbourhoods of the city of Ekurhuleni in South Africa: low-income suburbs, high-income suburbs and areas zoned for commercial or light industrial development. By comparing different variables to show significant differences between the three contrasting neighbourhoods, the extent of decentralisation can be mapped at different scales and rates. Different variables were found to have effects on the adoption of photovoltaic panels and solar geysers. Overall uptake of photovoltaic panels increased in all areas from 2010 to 2019.
A research report submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree Masters by Coursework in Environmental Sciences to the Faculty of Science, School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 2021