The Cost of Operating Without a Business Solar System

Jan 12, 2024

Business solar systems are the only viable solution to the loadshedding crisis in South Africa

Counting the Cost of Operating Without a Business Solar System in South Africa

The effects of load shedding have plagued the nation’s businesses since it was first implemented in 2007. Business solar systems are the only viable solution. The roots of this problem stem from the early years following the move to democracy when power from the national grid was finally made available to previously segregated areas.

At the time, expert advisors warned the government that the demand for electricity would quickly outstrip the utility company’s generating capacity within a few years without substantial investment in maintenance, plant upgrades and additional infrastructure. Yet, here we are in 2024, and nothing much has changed apart from the alarming increase in the frequency and length of these planned rolling blackouts.

Counting the Cost of Operating Without a Business Solar System in South Africa

On the plus side, when faced with a crisis, South Africans learned long ago how to make a plan. We have built gated communities and installed advanced security systems to curb crime, and when the lights go out, we have come up with several practical solutions. However, while each of these works to varying degrees, some can also be a source of problems.

Backup Generators or Business Solar Solutions? 

The sound of a compact petrol-driven generator is now a standard feature in many South African homes. They are relatively cheap to run and provide sufficient power to keep fridge freezers, lighting, charging points for mobile phones, security systems and TVs operating when Eskom can’t. However, keeping a business running on backup power to minimise lost revenue can be more challenging as most consume far more energy than an average home. A diesel generator can provide that extra power, but they are noisy and generate harmful exhaust fumes, so they must be isolated in a well-ventilated area.

In practice, a business solar installation is the solution of choice. An array of PV panels installed on a north-facing roof could resolve all future worries about load shedding. However, business owners too often dismiss this option, claiming that the initial installation cost outweighs the benefits.

By contrast, those companies who opt for solar systems seldom regret it; so perhaps the sceptics may not be fully aware of the benefits of solar power. Instead of worrying about the cost of an auxiliary power source, business owners should first count the actual cost of load shedding. The following are typical business activities that are disrupted by power outages:

  • Production
  • Business plans
  • Communications
  • Information flow
  • Income
  • Service delivery
  • Security systems

A study conducted in the Collins Chabane Local Municipality in Limpopo revealed that, on average, planned outages cost small and medium-sized businesses in this region 61% of their total income. Furthermore, around 59% of the companies studied were forced to lay staff off because they could not afford to continue paying their wages. One can safely assume that lost revenue figures are similar nationwide.

How Business Solar Systems Could Increase Your Revenue 

Solar panels need not be just another capital cost; they can be an investment. Solar systems have three main types: grid-tie, off-grid or hybrid. When installing the latter type, a company can be both a solar user and a solar provider. With this option, the user will remain independent of mains power, as it has storage batteries.

The panels generate direct current during daylight hours, and any excess is used to charge the batteries. After dark or during a power outage, the stored energy can be converted to alternating current by an inverter for use as needed. This facility alone can substantially reduce your monthly electricity bills, but that’s just one benefit of hybrid solar solutions.

The reduced carbon footprint benefits the environment, and a power purchase agreement (PPA) can boost your income by selling your excess power to an electricity provider. Solar Skye provides innovative business solar solutions for companies of all sizes. Why not contact us and start profiting from solar energy today?

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