Businesses, homeowners turn to solar as renewables demand surges

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Energy solutions companies are seizing opportunities in solar more aggressively, targeting homeowners and businesses, as SA continues to experience a surge in the uptake of renewable energy.

The suppliers say alternative energy solutions, like solar power, provide considerable savings on operational expenses, and protect companies and homes from unplanned power interruptions such as load-shedding.

In addition, larger organisations and homeowners are shifting towards greener solutions that are seen as kinder to the environment by opting to invest in energy solutions that will reduce their carbon footprint.

Energy solutions provider WiSolar says solar energy is playing an increasingly important role in SA’s energy mix, and in the last five months, it installed 9MW of residential solar power, providing power for over 3 000 homes.

Ellies Electronics, which today announced a partnership with The Rental Company, a specialist in asset funding, says an increasing number of businesses are looking for alternative energy solutions in the midst of increasing electricity tariffs and the unpredictability of the national power grid.

Ellies Electronics offers full-service photovoltaic solar solutions that transform sunlight into direct current electricity.

The increased uptake of solar by homeowners comes as SA is looking at renewable energy as a solution to the country’s energy challenges.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has backed renewables as an answer to load-shedding, as power utility Eskom struggles to keep the lights on.

This week, mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe gazetted amendments to the Electricity Regulations on New Generation Capacity, to enable municipal power generation.

This is an important move that takes municipalities a step closer to by-passing troubled power utility Eskom and procuring their own cheaper and clean electricity from renewable energy sources.

Corné du Plessis, director of The Rental Company, says the alliance with Ellies will allow businesses of any size to invest in solar power without the requirement of large cash payments upfront.

“Instead, cash can be directed to revenue-generating activities while allowing businesses to invest in solar with payment terms of three to five years.”

WiSolar, which also provides solar financing to homeowners, says the cost of renewable energy production is declining, driven by better technology, which is making it attractive to homeowners and businesses alike.

According to WiSolar, its solar energy packages are available with financing options, with the following package terms:

Medium: Can power a two-bedroom home with essential appliances, such as a washing machine and refrigerator. R2 557 per month for 72 months.

Popular: Supplies solar power to three- to four-bedroom homes with all the essential appliances and electrical devices. R3 610 per month for 72 months.

Large: A solar energy plan for five-bedroom homes, air-conditioning, and the works. R4 512 per month for 72 months.

WiSolar is one of the few service providers to have rolled out a prepaid, decentralised solar electricity solution in the country.

Last year, WiSolar announced a solar-as-a-service product in Nigeria and South Africa, saying it planned to use its existing capabilities and channel partners to scale and increase coverage.

Due to the growing demand, the company says it is adding 100 new virtual roles across multiple departments in South Africa in the coming year. With the new hires, the company will have a total of 200 people working on its solar projects across the country.

Anteonet van der Walt, chief of WiSolar operations in SA, says climate change, clean power subsidies and green bonds when available in SA could further accelerate the uptake and transition to renewable energy in the country.

“We are excited with the talent in SA and we are eager to include 100 skilled positions in the coming year across various offices to handle the demand for integration and maintenance of residential solar at eco-friendly estates nationally.”

Van der Walt adds that candidates interested in applying must have completed matric/Grade 12/NQF Level 4 qualification or higher, and a trade test will be applicable to electrical engineering candidates.

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