In South Africa, businesses typically install solar energy systems and batteries for one reason: to have power when loadshedding hits. But what happens when there is no loadshedding? Do you still benefit from these systems when the grid offers power?
Business owners are always trying to balance their power consumption needs with their budgets. Considering that buying a solar energy or battery system in cash comes with a hefty price tag, it’s understandable that many of them are hesitant to commit to these solutions over the long term if they feel like loadshedding might subside. With options like Power Purchase Agreements and fixed leases available to ease the investment burden, many businesses are still on the fence about whether securing these systems for their operations will be worth it.
Fortunately, the actual benefits of renewable energy have also gone far beyond addressing energy crises like loadshedding. Let’s look at five reasons your business should still consider solar energy and battery storage, even when loadshedding goes away.
Solar energy is essential for businesses that need to operate during the day when there are power cuts. But even if the power cuts subside, having a solar energy system still offers exceptional financial benefits. Generating consistent, clean energy from the sun lets your business use a renewable source of electricity instead of drawing from the active grid.
If you install a solar energy system through our capex-free Power Purchase Agreement, you pay only for the solar energy you use – at a rate that is up to 50% cheaper than Eskom. This gives you the best of both worlds, whether drawing from the grid or solar power.
Battery storage lets you power lights, machinery or other processes when the energy costs are high, or there is no sunlight. Battery storage enables you to take the energy savings from a solar panel into the night or access it during cloudy days. Your business will also have more control over its energy costs as you take control of demand charges; more on that later.
It’s no secret that battery storage has become a crucial power solution during loadshedding. Still, battery storage’s benefits go beyond being a backup system when the grid goes down.
Battery storage offers several ways to make the most of your tariff structure. If you’re on a time-of-use tariff, you need to find a way to make the best of peak and off-peak times. With battery storage, you can employ Time of Use Arbitrage to store electricity during off-peak hours (when rates are lower) and discharge it during peak hours (when rates are higher). If your battery storage is connected to a solar energy system, you can also store any excess power generated during the day in the battery.
If your tariff works according to maximum demand – in other words, it’s measured on the peak of your maximum demand or notified maximum demand – then you want to find a way of avoiding these unnecessary and often uncontrollable peaks. This is where peak shaving comes in: you strategically discharge your battery during high-demand periods to level out (shave) any possible peaks.
Tariff increases are unavoidable and will continue to rise, especially as Eskom and the government try to recoup energy infrastructure spending costs. What you can avoid is the unpredictability of these increases to make budgeting and planning easier. Despite the solar panel tariff increases, your energy costs will still be significantly lower than national grid tariffs. Add to that the effect of financial compounding, and your savings become significant in the long term.
With a PPA, your tariff increases at a fixed escalation every year so that you can accurately predict future energy costs. A PPA is an agreement over the course of 10 to 25 years, giving businesses a reliable, long-term view of their potential electricity expenses. Eskom and government regulatory bodies don’t give your business the same predictability and peace of mind.
Whether loadshedding is here to stay or not, you need to plan to ensure your business can operate with energy independence. Energy independence is essential because as your business changes so does the way it consumes energy. You may need to install more energy-intensive machinery or expand your operations to more sites. Whatever your requirements, you must remain agile enough to adapt to tomorrow’s challenges without compromising how your business budgets and operates today.
SolarAfrica takes a holistic, modular approach to renewable energy solutions. You can stack our solutions as you go. You can easily increase the number of solar panels and battery storage capacity to meet your future demand. Best of all: with SolarAfrica, you can rest assured that we size the system and any expansions so they’re tailor-made for your business.
And it doesn’t stop there: when you take our Green Energy Journey Quiz, you can quickly see which steps your business can take to become more energy-independent and sustainable with options such as biogas, gas-to-power, wheeling, energy trading, and renewable energy certificates.
Demonstrating a commitment to renewable energy and sustainability enhances your reputation as a green business and helps you boost your carbon credentials. By highlighting the use of solar panels and batteries in marketing material, you can demonstrate that your business is committed to helping the planet by using renewable energy to power its operations. You can also add Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) to your carbon-neutral mix to make sure your emission reductions are accounted for.
Regarding carbon emissions, you can also commit to saving a certain amount of CO2 every year. Whether you need this to adhere to sustainability or net-zero targets or if you want to reduce your impact on the environment, using solar energy and battery storage can get you there. Considering we’ve helped more than 135 businesses save more than 262 000 tonnes of CO2 so far, it’s safe to say that renewable energy is the most accessible path to a greener future.
Whether loadshedding intensifies or subsides, an investment in solar energy and battery storage is still your best option. It enables you to lower your costs, secure your energy needs, and reduce your impact on the environment.
Get in touch with our energy experts to see how solar and batteries can power your business.
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