Solar power promises affordable, clean and sustainable energy for South African SMEs

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In the face of episodic load shedding, rising electricity costs and the desire to lessen carbon footprints by using less fossil fuel generated power, local industry needs to embrace clean, affordable and renewable solar energy. Schletter is striving to drive this movement by assisting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in installing solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on their rooftops. Solar PV systems help industry achieve their energy efficiency and cleaner technology objectives.

According to Abdul-Khaaliq Mohamed, Head Electrical Engineer at Schletter South Africa, the private sector always needed to initiate the switch to the adoption and entrenchment of sustainable energy use in South Africa. With the costs of solar- gathering technology dropping, this marks the beginning of a solar revolution for South Africa.

Just a few years ago, bigger corporates in the country started the conversation around solar energy by installing solar panels on their vacant roof top space, to supplement some of the base load energy for running their offices.

He added that South Africa has an abundance of sunshine for PV installations. SMEs can take advantage of this and tap into unused roof space as well as specialised carport structures to fit solar panels. Schletter provides specialised carport solutions for industrial (as well as residential and commercial applications) which serve the dual purposes of protecting your vehicle and gathering solar energy, which can be fed into the user’s energy system.

As Eskom tariffs rise, SMEs stand to save more on electricity costs by going solar. Government tax incentives also allow businesses to pay back their PV capital investments even faster. This cements solar PV as a logical and sustainable long-term financial investment.

Businesses can also adopt power purchase agreements (PPAs) where they will not have to spend a cent on PV infrastructure, but simply pay for the clean energy that the PV system produces at a predictable and affordable price.

The minimal maintenance of PV systems and their exceptionally quick, simple, modular and plug-and-play manner of installation means fewer interruptions to businesses processes and low operational costs. Sceptical business owners unfamiliar with the proven PV technology can opt to install small pilot PV systems or roll out larger PV systems in stages.

Looking at a tangible local example in the industrial sector, Mohamed says recently measured statistics on a business that has adopted a solar programme is a large sanitary ware corporation in the East Rand of Johannesburg. “After installing solar energy panels, the company mentioned is currently saving up to 922 kWh per sunny day, which equates to an energy saving of around R 700 per day and a reduction of approximately 900 kg of carbon dioxide”. He adds that estimating the monthly cost savings and the reduction of carbon emissions reveals an even more impressive picture.


Monica Braganca
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