The South Africa Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) has launched a first of its kind report that details the impact of solar PV on South Africa’s employment statistics.
Launching the Solar PV Industry Jobs Report, SAPVIA COO Niveshen Govender, said: “The impact of COVID-19 on the South African economy will be long lasting, but it also presents us with opportunities to rethink our economy and re-focus on a just energy transition. Renewable energy, and solar PV, specifically deliver for both the environment and the economy.”
He continued: “SAPVIA has long recognised the need to quantify the jobs created by a transition to renewables, not least because we understand the impact that any move away from our traditional fuels such as coal will have on communities across South Africa.”
The Solar PV Industry Jobs Report takes stock of the socio-economic impact that has resulted from the deployment of solar PV. The research was conducted by the CSIR on behalf of SAPVIA.
Dr Clinton Carter-Brown, head of the energy centre at the CSIR, stressed: “It is important for South Africa to have a fact and evidence base supporting the job and economic implications of the energy transition and the impacts that emerging industries such as solar PV are having on employment and job creation.”
He added: “This requires the creation and maintenance of related datasets supporting the analysis of the solar PV value chain so that policy and decision-makers have well-informed analytics of historical and present-day jobs in the solar PV sector, and an understanding of the future potential and how policy decisions and localisation can directly support job creation.
In addition to providing low-cost sustainable power, solar PV is also making a direct and significant contribution to job creation, now and into the future.”
According to Govender the study will allow “us to estimate the job creation opportunities from solar PV given the focus on deployment of renewables through the IRP and the current policy directive for enhanced localisation.
“The results of the study show that in the long term the Solar PV industry has the potential to create substantial sustained Operations & Maintenance jobs which accounts for almost 30% of the total current jobs in Solar PV. In the near-term, as we scale up solar PV, job creation will be predominantly in the construction period of projects.”
Key report outcomes
Through the research, the CSIR clearly shows the rate of growth of jobs in the Solar PV sector is linked to the localization of manufacturing [and other services] and the opportunity to increase the job intensity. Increasing local content requires a consistent year on year new build of capacity, as is evident from the modelling results in the report.
“The study further confirms that the Small Scale Embedded Generation (SSEG) market will present considerable opportunity for increased job creation, but the ability to achieve such will be dependent on related policy certainty and enabling frameworks.
The SSEG market segment supports 39 Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) jobs for every MW installed compared to the 17 FTE jobs per MW created through the implementation of utility-scale projects.”
The ability of local Solar PV developers and supply chains to support both the utility-scale and embedded SSEG markets will provide agility to move between these markets and sustain jobs in periods where new build capacity in one market may be lower in any particular period of time.
Wido Schnabel, SAPVIA Chairperson, added: “This Jobs Report has clearly demonstrated the contribution the solar PV industry has already made to job creation and the potential trajectory over the next few years.
As uptake of solar PV continues to increase, the sector will deliver enhanced skills development for South Africans as we transition away from fossil fuels and other traditional fuel sources and provide youth and local communities with additional employment opportunities.”
“The solar PV industry is an enabler for affordable energy, and will support a cleaner environment and create a sustainable pipeline of future-proofed jobs for generations to come. For this to happen we need bold steps and commitment from the government and from the private sector.”
The Solar PV Industry Jobs Report is the start to understanding the status quo of employment benefits of renewable energy and solar PV specifically and SAPVIA will continue to build on this research to track the growth of the industry.
“Solar PV will not be a silver bullet that addresses all our unemployment issues, but with targeted planning, clear policy direction and the support of government and industry, the solar PV sector can contribute decent, skilled jobs now, in the medium and long-term,” says Schnabel.