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International certification is a first for South African solar tracker

May 27, 2019
International certification is a first for South African solar tracker

Port Elizabeth - Port Elizabeth-based PiA Solar, which is among the top 15 suppliers of solar tracking systems in the world, is now the first tracker manufacturer both in the southern hemisphere and in Africa to qualify for the international design standard IEC 62817 certification.

This has opened up opportunities for the export of the technology globally, according to founder and managing director Colin Muller.

He says the demand for solar trackers for utility-scale and large-scale solar power plants is growing exponentially because the trackers increase the yield from the solar farms by up 25 per cent, depending on the location.

“More importantly the plant starts generating maximum power earlier and the morning, and then later into the afternoon until the last rays of the sun have disappeared.

“With static installations there is peak power only at mid-day,” he says.

The trackers are also being used increasingly by business.

“Having power from early till late is important for people running businesses because they have a more stable power supply from the time people arrive to when they leave.

“For farmers, it means they can start running their pumps earlier and for longer. They do not have to wait for the sun,” says Muller.

International certification is a first for South African solar tracker 

PiA’s trackers will be installed in five of the new solar farms licensed in REIPP (Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer) Round Four, and is short-listed for another three.

“Potentially we will have eight of the 12 REIPP Round Four projects.

“Combined with the installations already done by PiA Solar in South Africa and the rest of Africa, the new round will mean that we will pass the gigawatt milestone – making us a significant international supplier of utility-scale solar mounting equipment,” he says.

In order to qualify for the certification PiA Solar had to build its own climate test chamber in Port Elizabeth.

Certification was undertaken by the TUV Rheinland South Africa office in Port Elizabeth in partnership with the company’s German headquarters.

“This certification process has opened the doors for the international certification of trackers in South Africa,” said Kobie Coertze, TUV Rheinland regional manager for the Eastern and Western Cape.

With the systems in place it will fast-track the certification of the next generation of trackers, he said.

The latest range of PiA Solar trackers is currently being tested at the company’s development and test facility in Sardinia Bay.

Image: Chris Ellingson (PiA Solar),  Kobie Coertze (TUV Rheinland), Colin Muller (Pia Solar) and  Jaycin Snyman (TUV Rheinland at the official handover of the IEC 62817 certification to PiA Solar.

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