Altering the landscape of the solar rooftop PV industry in South Africa

Altering the landscape of the solar rooftop PV industry in South Africa

SolarAfrica has tackled the CAPEX challenge in the body corporate segment with a unique financing model that sells electricity instead of solar PV systems.

Based on its recent analysis of the solar rooftop photovoltaic (PV) industry, Frost & Sullivan recognises SolarAfrica with the 2016 South African Entrepreneurial Company of the Year Award. SolarAfrica’s rooftop solar solution is poised to change the rooftop PV market in South Africa, with a business model that mitigates the challenges inherent in the product.

The company’s alternative clean energy solution eliminates the need for a high capital investment as the company takes responsibility for investing, installing, operating, and maintaining a PV system that will generate electricity for own use by the residential sectional title holders. Customers only pay a monthly service fee based on energy used. This cost is lower than the cost incurred on sourcing electricity from the national grid.

SolarAfrica’s PV solution is not completely off-grid. After using the available solar power, a complex will still source its remaining electricity needs from the existing municipal supply. Solar panels will satisfy approximately 25% of the complex’s electricity needs, which will sufficiently meet smaller requirements during peak hours as well as a large part of the base load requirements for the body corporate.

“SolarAfrica’s solution for the sectional title market in South Africa is a unique offering in a relatively uncontested market as ESKOM (through municipalities) have been its electricity suppliers,” said Frost & Sullivan Senior Research Analyst Neeraj Mense. “The company has persisted with its business model for sectional title owners, despite the many challenges posed by existing participants, as the growth in complexes and gated communities has transformed it to a high-potential market.”

Interested customers have so far been reluctant to invest in solar PV installations, as they effectively have to pay for the cost of 20 to 25 years’ worth of electricity upfront when they buy solar panels. SolarAfrica’s system is the perfect solution in this market as it charges on a usage kilowatt hours (kWh) basis. There is no need for a capital investment.

In fact, SolarAfrica’s solar service contracts can generate savings of 5 to 25% on energy costs currently incurred by a typical body corporate. These savings start immediately and future savings will accumulate over the tenure of the agreement.

SolarAfrica’s customers benefit most from its dedicated technical and sales partner network, which is skilled in procuring, designing, and installing PV systems that are aligned with its customers’ demands. The company’s advanced remote monitoring and metering systems generate the latest consumption figures and patterns, while its software team constantly aims to improve its processes and delivery mechanisms to enhance the customer experience.

“SolarAfrica’s ability to provide solutions that suit customers’ load/consumption profile enables it to present a very competitive price for its services,” noted Neeraj Mense. “It has made concerted efforts to develop its brand to attract new customers as well as expand in countries such as Ghana and Kenya.”

Each year, Frost & Sullivan presents this award to the company that has demonstrated excellence in devising and robustly implementing a strong growth strategy. The recipient has shown strength in terms of innovation in products and technologies, leadership in customer value, and speed in response to market needs. In short, the award looks at emerging participants in the industry and recognises their best practices that are positioned for future growth excellence.

Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global markets for demonstrating outstanding achievement and superior performance in areas such as leadership, technological innovation, customer service, and strategic product development. Industry analysts compare market participants and measure performance through in-depth interviews, analysis, and extensive secondary research to identify best practices in the industry.

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