You are currently viewing The stuff you need to know about solar power in Cape Town.

The stuff you need to know about solar power in Cape Town.

Going solar

Homes or businesses that have onsite renewable energy generation will benefit from lower electricity costs and contribute to a more secure and sustainable future for Cape Town.

Solar energy options for the home

Switching to a more efficient water heating system will help you save money on your electricity bill.

Solar water heaters

Solar water heaters are a set of pipes that are placed on the roof of your home. Heat from the sun warms water that can then be used throughout your home for all your hot water needs.

Heat pumps

Heat pumps use a small amount of electricity to power a pump. The pump acts as an air conditioner in reverse, moving heat from the air into the hot water geyser.

Heat pumps are a good option for homes and flats that do not get a lot of direct sunshine or do not have enough space or the right construction to support a solar water heater.

Solar PV water heaters

Solar photovoltaic (PV) water heaters use PV panels to generate electricity from the sun to heat water via an electrical element. The water can then be used throughout your home for all your hot water needs.

On-site electricity generation

Solar Photo-voltaic (PV): Embedded Generation (EG)


If you are a Solar PV Installer, and would like to receive more information on Small-scale Embedded Generation (SSEG) from the City, you can subscribe to our Solar PV Installer Newsflash to stay up-to-date with the latest information.

Solar PV technology converts energy from the sun to electricity, which can be used in buildings of all sizes. Investing in solar PV can help reduce the amount of electricity that is bought from the City.

Solar PV is one form of Small-Scale Embedded Generation (SSEG). SSEG refers to systems generating less than 1MVA that are connected to the City’s electricity grid. EG refers to systems with a generation capacity of more than 1 MVA and less than 100 MVA.

Solar PV is suitable for any place where there is a good solar resource and electricity is already used including residential, commercial and industrial areas.

All solar PV systems installed within the City of Cape Town electricity supply area must be registered for authorisation.

Choosing a solar PV system

There are a number of solar PV configurations:

Grid-tied systems

These are connected to the City’s electricity grid either directly or through your property’s internal wiring. There are two types of grid-tied systems.

  • Grid-tied feed-in system (also known as an EG with export option): the electricity generated by the PV system is used on the property. Excess electricity generated from the system is fed back into the electricity grid – you may receive credit from the City.
  • Grid-tied non-feed-in PV (also known as an EG with no export option, with reverse power flow blocking): the electricity generated by the PV system is used on the property only when there is a demand for it. Excess electricity generated is blocked from feeding back into the grid.

Grid-tied hybrid systems

Grid-tied systems that island after interruption of the distributor supply or when the applicable electrical service conditions are outside stated limits or out of required tolerances and then supplies the load from the inverter, operating in the stored-energy mode via a suitably interlocked change-over switch.

Off-grid or standalone SSEG systems

These systems have no connection to the grid. They are physically separated and electrically isolated from the grid. An example would be connecting a pool pump directly to a solar PV system instead of connecting it to the building’s wiring.

Off-grid systems must also be registered with the City to ensure they are not mistaken for grid-tied systems. See the Rooftop Solar PV Guidelines for Safe and Legal Installations in Cape Town for more information about different kinds of PV systems.

Passive standy UPS utilised as standby hybrid system

Applies to any UPS operation according to the following principle:

  • The normal mode of operation consists of supplying the load from the grid
  • When the grid is outside stated limits, the load is supplied from the UPS inverter, operating in stored energy mode

Such a system will only be regarded as standby provided that it is equipped with a suitably interlocked change-over switch.


Our Load-shedding Resilience Guide offers easy and affordable ways to protect your home from load-shedding. You can also find answers to the Top 10 SSEG FAQs.

Register your solar PV system

All solar PV systems installed within the City’s electricity supply area must be authorised by us.

See our useful guideline documents below:

Registration is legally required in terms of the City of Cape Town Electricity Supply By-Law, 2010 and ensures the safety of anyone who comes into contact with the PV system or the grid itself.

Registration also makes sure that all those who are using electricity from the grid pay for their usage accordingly. Running your meter backwards or avoiding paying your share of the grid upkeep is illegal and puts greater strain on the rest of the city.

An unauthorised PV system can:

  • Increase the risk of fire and other hazards
  • Result in injury or death, especially if it is still feeding onto the grid during a power outage. The property owner will be at risk of legal recourse under Occupational Health and Safety laws.
  • Cause quality and sustainability problems with the electricity grid, specifically from unknown capacity and schedules of all generation on the network. This information is needed in order to maintain the balance of load and electricity quality.

Properties with unregistered SSEG will be issued a contravention notice, be liable for a service fee and instructed to:

  • Disconnect the SSEG within five working days;
  • Provide a Certificate of Compliance (CoC) as proof
  • Register the SSEG within one month and conclude the authorisation process within three months

Failure to comply could result in the disconnection of the electricity supply to the property.

How do I sell my excess energy back to the City?

Most of the electricity generated by a grid-tied feed-in system is consumed onsite. Sometimes, more electricity is generated than consumed. In this case, a limited amount of power is allowed to flow back onto the electricity grid and your electricity account is credited at the SSEG tariff. Over a 12-month period, all properties with EG systems must be ‘net consumers’ which means that they consume more power than they generate.

Find out more on the requirements to install an embedded generation system.

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