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PE solar company grows to power Africa

De Aar solar project. De Aar solar project.

South Africa, Africa and global export markets have opened up for solar photovoltaic power installations. According to the company, the recent depreciation of the currency is making PiA Solar SA (Pty) Ltd. a sought after solution for the supply and installation of their solar mounting solutions.

Solar tracking systems increase the output of solar installations by ensuring that the panels are working at optimum efficiency throughout the day by following the sun.

Port Elizabeth-based PiA Solar has developed both the solar structures and the software for the tracker, which supports solar panels. This, says the company, is the only South African designed and manufactured product that has been selected for the South African REIPPP projects. The system was also selected by the CSIR in Pretoria and has been successfully installed, commissioned and currently pumping MW’s of power per day into their grid.

With PiA Solar’s recently awarded projects of 90MW in De Aar and 86MW in Prieska, PiA Solar now is one of the largest suppliers and installers of solar structures in South Africa.

The PiA Solar team is currently working on both of its sites, installing around 9,000 solar panels per day and soon will hit their one million installed milestone. The company expects to supply around 10,000 tons of locally-produced steel for the solar farms it is currently building.

The competitiveness of the renewable solar energy market makes it imperative that new installations are as efficient as possible. and t

“The innovative PiA Solar tracker perfectly fills the gap, thus offering our clients a true cost effective solutiuon,” says Colin Muller, the co-founder of PiA Solar.

“The ISO 9001 quality certification achievement proves we are serious about our manufacturing, supply and installation business. This has given the company a definite export boost,” he adds.

“Most of the international companies in the solar sector will not work with suppliers unless they are ISO certified. As the first sub-structure designer, manufacturer and installer in South Africa to obtain ISO certification we can now compete directly against international companies,” Muller continues.

The company has grown to be one of Africa’s biggest installers of solar projects since being awarded the contract to design, manufacture and install the frames for the 75MW Kalkbult solar project in the Northern Cape. This project was awarded to Scatec Solar in round one of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPP.) Using patented PiA Solar anchors and the company’s own mounting system,

The project was completed six weeks ahead of schedule, PiA Solar has since been involved in the installation of 400MW of solar panels – 260MW of this is housed on PiA Solar structures.

“PiA team on site set a new industry standard by installing up 9,156 modules in one day on one site,” boasts Muller.  

PiA Solar has supplied and installed some 300,000 of its patented rock anchor. PiA Solar is currently installing the rock anchor at an impressive rate of over 3,000 units per day on the two current solar farms.

Muller says the success of the company is vastly due to them using best practice from their previous experience as suppliers to the Eastern Cape automotive manufacturing sector.

“We create what are in effect giant factories on site,” he says.

Axel Pustet, PiA’s director of business development, has been in Uganda and Ghana and Namibia finalising future export projects. PiA is at present also supplying solar structures to Zambia.

“Now, with the tracker we are able to offer the full range of mounting equipment – from rooftop to utility-scale. Not only that, we have a proven track record of being able to install the panels on time and on budget under very difficult working conditions,” Pustet says.

“Our greatest pride is that during this poor global and national economic situation, PiA has created more than 10,000 man months of employment, of which more than 8,000 were in the traditionally disadvantaged rural areas.”

“As for the environment, we have developed what we believe to be a fully modular mounting system that is easily adjustable and can be installed on the virgin, undulating terrain without removing any of the sensitive Karoo vegetation,” he continues.

Combining its recently awarded ISO 9001 with its existing project success in the supply and installations to the African solar market make PiA Solar a proud partner of choice for future projects. 

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