Compared to other parts of the world, solar energy products in South Africa (rooftop photovoltaic (PV) in particular) have very low levels of market penetration. This is despite South Africa been advanced economically and blessed with a favourable climate. This study sought to establish levels of acceptance and uptake of rooftop PV in Parkhurst, a small upper income suburb in Johannesburg, South Africa. To this end, a social media driven survey was undertaken with residents and in-depth interviews were conducted with key stakeholders including a solar PV company owner, the local councillor, various local community leaders, an energy expert, an estate agent and representatives of local finance houses. It was found that uptake of rooftop PV products in the suburb is low, despite their attractiveness in terms of being environmentally friendly, being able to assist the residents deal with local power blackouts (known locally as load shedding) and local power outages. There were multiple reasons for the poor uptake. Firstly, there is little to no support from the municipality, the dominant electricity supplier (Eskom) and the State for rooftop PV with no feed in tariffs; no subsidization of solar installations; an inactive demand side management campaign; no tax rebates and no pressure on the banks to provide finance. Secondly, consumers are somewhat fearful of roof top PV as they do not understand the technology and do not know if they can trust the suppliers thereof. Thirdly, rooftop PV are considered expensive, representing a significant capital outlay which will take years to provide a return on investment and may or may not contribute to the resale value of the residence. Fourthly, residents have multiple demands on their income, thus, the installation of a rooftop PV is usually a low priority. Fifthly, financial institutions in SA take a very conservative outlook to financing these products and extending credit. Interest rates are high and currently there are few, if any, bank-accredited PV suppliers. Lastly, the solar companies have not marketed themselves and their products well, focusing on selling the PV product, instead of bundling it with a maintenance service plan and a financial package. Going forward it is recommended that such companies focus on building their brand, building trust and building a relationship with the community. Looking ahead, rooftop PV has an opportunity to become accessible and mainstream in South Africa as formidable electricity tariff increases are on the horizon, which, in conjunction with maintenance and aging infrastructure issues that will mean more load shedding and outages, are likely to push many consumers to adopt demand side management strategies and alternative power sources such as solar.
Mini Dissertation (MBA)--University of Pretoria, 2016.