The importance of a solar battery system for a high energy dependent business

The importance of a solar battery system for a high energy dependent business

Unreliable energy supply significantly impacts your operations. A solar battery system will keep your operations going using a greener, cleaner, and more reliable energy source. Use solar battery storage and be less dependent on the national grid.

The essential role of solar battery systems in high energy-dependent businesses

A prevailing gripe among South Africans is load shedding. It is a frustrating inconvenience that sucks the energy out of life and work, pun intended. As frustrating as load shedding is to daily activities, it has a more significant impact on businesses. Inconsistent energy supply leads to downtime, sales, and productivity losses while increasing maintenance costs and damaging equipment.

Sadly, load shedding isn’t going away anytime soon; at best, it’ll get worse before it gets better. That’s because the national grid relies on old coal-fired power stations that frequently break down, resulting in unscheduled load shedding. Almost a third of these power stations will reach end-of-life by 2023. To replace them will take years and close to R1 trillion while Eskom tries to get a grip on R400 billion in debt.

Eskom can produce approximately 26 000 megawatts at present against a peak demand of 32 000 megawatts; in the foreseeable future, it will continue to struggle to meet demand. Your business doesn’t need to be subjected to national grid inequities. That’s why the South African government relaxed its regulations to allow you to become more power independent and reduce the burden on the national grid.

You can have an energy supply that is reliable and cheaper in the form of a solar battery energy system.

Even better, you can benefit from this initiative, without upfront capital expenditure, you only pay for the energy you use from the solar system, while having a lease agreement on the battery portion.

Is solar and battery storage the right solution for the Eskom challenge?

There are several ways to generate energy, and choosing one that works depends on your criteria. In general, most companies will agree that they need:

  • Power generation that is simple to set up and won’t get bogged down in regulations.
  • An energy generation system that will function independently of the national grid. That way, you can still function without hindrance if the national grid has any issues.
  • An energy system that uses an abundant local resource.
  • A cheaper energy system, the bottom line always counts
  • The energy system is low maintenance.

Solar panels

Solar panels meet the criteria with the added advantage that they are a clean energy source, a key feature as the world grapples with impending climate change regulations. But solar energy alone won’t be enough. Sometimes sunny days turn cloudy, or your operations go into the night. That’s when you will need a backup— battery storage system. A solar battery system will enable you to leverage the advantages of solar energy consistently, making this stored energy available for use at night or when required.

Adding a battery to your solar solution

Adding a battery to your solar solution isn’t an upsell; it’s an innovative and effective power solution that will keep your operations running smoothly. If funding is a concern, you can opt for the solar battery solution as a LEASE agreement. Under a LEASE, SolarAfrica will supply and install your solar battery system for you. Furthermore, the fixed instalment will include regular maintenance and replacement parts for the solar battery system from SolarAfrica.

Suppose the cloudy days persist, or you need more energy for any reason. In that case, you can use SolarAfrica’s energy trading platform. Within it, you can buy clean, cheap energy from other operations with a surplus. You can earn from the same system when your operation has a surplus.

How is a solar power solution best implemented?

Solar energy systems are modular, meaning you can build what you need right now and easily scale up according to your needs. Therefore, solar modules are versatile and can fit into any operation or budget.

It is possible to build a large solar battery energy system to power your entire operations without needing a connection to the grid. Under this model, you will get the independence you need using an energy source that is cheaper and cleaner than the national grid.

If restrictions hold you back from going entirely off-grid, you can use a solar battery system to power part of your operations or as a backup. The load shedding and blackouts are here for the foreseeable future; if you are to survive, you need an alternative plan.

Needs evaluation is the key to success

Your company, location, operations, and objectives are unique. So you need a solar battery system that is as unique. Your circumstances will determine the solution which works best for you.

To evaluate the type and size of the solar battery system that you require, you will have to consider and clearly define the reason that energy loss or quality is an issue; what is the opportunity cost for depending on an unreliable energy source? Energy loss can be in the form of load shedding or equipment faults, while energy quality refers to reliability and price. Here are a few things you can consider:

  • Do your operations use sensitive equipment that needs constant energy supply and may get damaged if there is a sudden shutdown?
  • Can downtime lead to substantive supply issues? For example, meat suppliers have a window period to process meat safely; without cold storage, it becomes a health risk.
  • Can downtime lead to financial losses from regulatory or legal penalties? For example, your contracts may have fines and fees that you have to pay to the client if you delay delivery.
  • Can loss of power lead to wastage? For example, paint manufacturers are forced to watch their drums sit still during load shedding while the paint hardens; once that happens, the paint is unusable and becomes a loss.
  • Do you need to practice peak shaving to make savings by drawing from cheaper energy sources? Part of your operation, such as machine startup or critical processes, may require a spike in energy use. If you can’t time that spike due to unreliable electricity supply, you may have the energy spike during peak or expensive energy rate periods.
  • How much revenue do you lose when power is out? For example, some businesses are losing around R6 000 per minute in downtime in the steel manufacturing industry; as a nation, South Africa loses billions daily due to planned load shedding.
  • Which operations are critical and need constant power? Different industries have very different requirements; for example, in the hospitality industry, you may only want your critical loads on the battery, such as lights, TV, wifi, and restaurant but remove the laundry and pool pump because these aren’t necessary for short periods.

Once you have thought through your needs, you will have a better understanding of the type and size of system you need. Ideally, you need to be able to generate energy and store it; SolarAfrica offers a solution for you to achieve both.

Generate energy

To generate clean, cheap energy you can install solar modules. With SolarAfrica you have the option to buy it cash or under a 5 to 25-year PPA. A PPA is an arrangement that lets you have the solar modules at no cost, you will only pay for the energy that you use.

Store energy

To manage your base load more efficiently, you can install a battery. SolarAfrica offers battery storage solutions at cash or on a lease of up to 10 years. Under a lease agreement you get battery storage for a fixed monthly instalment (installation, monitoring, and maintenance is inclusive), much like your vehicle finance, and get the full benefits of a storage system. So you can secure your energy needs, generation and storage, with no CAPEX.

When there is a loss in power, you lose more than the energy cost; you lose on cost overruns, breakages, lost sales, and more. Your operations can use a solar battery system that provides a sustainable, cheaper, and reliable energy source without any CAPEX. You will not only save the environment and your energy costs, but you will be able to save your operations from unreliable energy supply issues.

Kobus Krauwcamp

Head of Engineering

Thank you to Kobus for your insight and knowledge on this subject.

Planning your organisation’s green energy road map is easier than it seems. Fill in our green energy goals questionnaire to identify the right alternative energy solution for your business.