Guard Against Solar Power Corruption in South Africa

The rapid uptake of solar power in South Africa has attracted individuals looking to capitalize on the burgeoning market, according to Sakkie van Wijk, the co-founder and COO of Solarise Africa.

In the alternative energy industry, Van Wijk explained that their personal networks often approach them for project reviews and guidance, but they are increasingly encountering questionable activities.

Dubious transactions involving intricate supply chain layers with markups and kickbacks are surfacing, leading to inflated project costs and compromised installations. They’ve even come across significant deals sealed with mere handshakes and no paperwork, which can result in costs being doubled.

As a response, Van Wijk emphasized the importance of scrutinizing every aspect of solar adoption deals to ensure transparency and integrity. The surge in solar adoption has been likened to a gold rush in South Africa, with installations reportedly quadrupling in some regions, particularly in Cape Town, Gauteng, and KwaZulu-Natal, according to Frank Spencer, a spokesperson from the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association.

While the growth in solar power adoption is promising, Van Wijk stressed the significance of preventing corruption in this booming sector. Compliance with legal requirements is a baseline necessity, including obtaining authorization from appropriate authorities like municipalities for grid connections. It’s essential to remain cautious of fraudulent “authorization fees” that can mislead clients, despite municipalities not charging such fees.

For large-scale solar installations, specific building plan prerequisites must be met, encompassing factors like solar panel positioning and elevation. Particularly, the elevation of panels concerning the natural or finished ground level must be meticulously considered for ground-mounted or elevated systems.

Adhering to these building plan mandates is critical to ensuring the safety, efficiency, and long-term viability of large-scale solar projects.

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