Do you need permission to install solar panels in South Africa?

Posted March 2024

If you’re intending on installing solar in your residential home in South Africa, you’ll need permission to do so by applying to become a small scale energy generator (SSEG) with your local municipality. This requirement was first introduced in 2017, and since then the application process and requirements have been modified and added to significantly – and this appears to be ongoing.  While there is no charge to the SSEG application, a fee is applied if you fail to register.  

If you’re feeling confused about what’s required when it comes to your SSEG application, this article breaks down the process in a simple way.

Note: South Africa’s municipalities differ slightly in terms of their requirements for each SSEG application, but we’ve based the information below on the City of Cape Town (COCT). For further reference, please read the COCT SSEG application guidelines.

Step 1: Proxy set up

To get started with your SSEG application, we’ll need the following from you as the owner of the property:

  1. A full utility bill of your property
  2. A copy of your ID

Once we have these, we’ll send you the COCT proxy form to sign, which gives us permission to act on your behalf as your proxy.

Step 2: Application completion

As your proxy, we’ll complete your SSEG application in full and send it to the relevant municipality. This application includes the following: 

  • Utility bill (all pages)
  • Copy of your ID
  • A copy of our ID as the proxy acting on your behalf 
  • Single line drawing (SLD) signed by an ECSA registered engineer (this means they must have PR registration number within electronics, electrical or mechatronics disciplines).

Within this application, it is mandatory that the designed Solar PV system meets the requirements of your existing main electrical supply. In addition, the electrician that installed the system must be approved as an installation electrician or master electrician (this means three phase certification. This is where a registered engineer is essential for a successful SSEG application.

Step 3: Application submission

Applications can be submitted either in person or via email to the relevant electricity department or municipality (in this case the City of Cape Town). The process is as follows:

  • The proxy (us) as well as you the owner will be emailed a reference number to prove that the application has been received.
  • The application is data captured by the COCT for approval by their technicians, after which a permission to install (PTI) notice is issued once the application is complete. 
  • If the application does not meet the requirements set out above, there can be substantial time delays and there’s a risk that the application could be cancelled. 
  • The proxy receives the PTI with the supplemental contract for your signature as the client. As the proxy, we do not have any legal obligation here but we will fill in the contract as much as is possible on your behalf. 
  • We submit the completed and signed supplemental contract, the Certificate of compliance, the final SLD ( if changes have been made) and commissioning report signed by an engineer to the COCT technician.
  • The final commissioning approval letter is then sent to you as the client as well as us as the proxy. 

It’s important to note that should you upgrade your inverter in future, a new SSEG application will need to be submitted. Also, who you choose as your installer is very important when it comes to this process: PV Greencard-accredited installers are constantly upgrading and training their staff who are involved with the SSEG applications, and then ensuring their teams on site follow these regulations.

Want to know more about SSEG applications, or installing solar in your home? Talk to us today.