Sunny outlook for Ballito retailer after solar power conversion
03 July 2019 | Web Article Number: ME201915283
RETAIL entrepreneur Viman Singh of ICE Cash & Carry in Ballito is smiling on sunny days as the busy store now harnesses the power of cost-effective solar energy.
That’s after solar energy solutions business, SolarSaver, installed a 50KW grid-tied solar photovoltaic (PV) system at the store in just ten days, which now powers 80% of its daytime energy needs.
Lance Green of SolarSaver said that while solar should be a go-to option in South Africa, with more than double the solar radiation output of Europe, the set-up costs can be prohibitive. However, solid backing from the Pembani-Remgro Infrastructure Fund (PRIF) and Stimulus Investments has enabled SolarSaver to counteract the capital investment issue by offering a unique, fully financed rent-to-own model.
“Business clients like ICE Cash & Carry do not have to fund any of the capital required to install the system,” said Green. “Instead, the business rents the system from SolarSaver and will only pay for the electricity the system provides – at rates significantly below what the municipality would charge for the equivalent grid supply. SolarSaver will also remain responsible for all ongoing installation, monitoring, maintenance and insurance of the system.”
Currently solar energy works well for many businesses via this grid-tied solution that focuses on daytime power generation, in an effort to reduce monthly electricity costs.
Unfortunately, said Green,solar on its own doesn’t protect against load-shedding without the inclusion of substantial battery storage, which can be expensive. However, with the system in place ICE Cash & Carry is able to take a phased approach to bringing batteries into the system.
“We are currently logging the energy consumption of essential tills and lighting in order to fit batteries to operate these elements. Eventually, this system will be capable of taking the site completely off-the-grid, providing ICE Cash & Carry with silent and sustainable electricity on a 24/7 basis,” said Green.
Singh is now a firm endorser of the solution and the capabilities the system provides and plans to roll it out to his other businesses.
“We opened the doors of ICE Cash & Carry in 2018 and we have since experienced rapid growth. The instability of the local power provider in this industrial area is a big business risk for us and we searched for alternative power solutions that would help us have business continuity, even during load-shedding.
“It made sense to install a grid-tied solar system from Solar Saver in the short term, benefiting from the cost savings, with the additional benefit of being able to phase in battery systems as we move to operating off-grid.
“We are looking forward to our tills and lights being load-shedding proof as we phase in a solar battery system. While you may not be able to go off-grid straight away, now is the time to lay the foundations and start the move in that direction. With no investment required, the SolarSaver solution makes sense.”
Singh also noted the green benefits of a solar system. “Most of the buildings in our area have energy saving globes, you see plants on the walls and there is a big eco movement in Ballito. Going solar supports that by reducing our carbon footprint.”
According to Green, other businesses in KwaZulu-Natal set to benefit from the SolarSaver solution include Mtuba Mall, Shelley Boulevard Centre, Spar and Tops, Engen and Puma Fuel Service Stations.