Why you really should consider solar power for your business

  • The renewable energy sector has evolved rapidly and unfortunately many still believe that renewables are expensive and incapable of meeting their energy needs.
  • The cost of solar power fell as much as 50 percent in 2023 and it’s only getting cheaper thanks to advancements in the manufacturing process.
  • Even a small investment into solar power can offset an SME’s municipal energy bill and that’s not the only benefit.

The threat of loadshedding returning looms on the horizon as we hurtle toward the elections next week. While we’ve enjoyed uninterrupted power for the last 50+ days, we’re still not seemingly out of the woods yet.

Hopefully, South Africans have used this time to put mitigations against loadshedding in place, especially small businesses. While the idea of solar power and backup power has, in the past, been accompanied by mention of high costs, renewable energy generation is only getting cheaper.

By 2023, the world was generating enough renewable energy from solar, wind and other sources to power the US and Canada’s energy demands. This is thanks largely to the plummeting cost of solar power generation which fell as much as 50 percent according to the International Energy Agency.

Despite this, misinformation runs rampant, and head of sustainability at FNB Business, Kyle Durham says this puts SMEs off the idea of engaging with renewable energy.

One myth that spreads among business owners is that renewable energy is more expensive than the juice you get from the mains.

“While the initial investment in renewables is undoubtedly significant, the long-term savings on operational costs and the lower dependence on grid electricity – which is set to continue rapidly rising in price in the coming years, make renewable energy the financially wise choice for any business,” Durham explains.

The executive also notes that there are also financial incentives available and banks such as FNB make it easier to finance a move to renewable energy.

Another issue that comes up frequently is the complexity of renewable energy such as solar. While a few years ago we’d have agreed, these days reputable installers are commonplace and good installers will make sure that your solar power system requires as little or as much input from you as you’d like.

What also seems to put folks off of solar in particular is that their energy use is too high. As Durham explains though, even a partial offset of usage from renewables will save a business money and in the event of power cuts, there is a backup for essentials.

“While reducing your dependence on municipalities and Eskom electricity is a key benefit, adopting a renewable energy strategy also brings many other benefits including more reliable electricity supply to allow your business to operate through loadshedding, as well as a reduced carbon footprint and more support of environmental sustainability, both of which resonate with an increasingly eco-conscious consumer base in South Africa,” says Durham.

As for storing the energy solar produces, that has become a lot more accessible over the last two years. Lithium iron phosphate batteries are currently the gold standard thanks to their high number of cycles before performance degrades and their relatively low cost. Even deploying a battery backup that charges from municipal power can help a business remain operational during power outages.

The best thing to do is to chat to a solar installer and explore how renewables can help your business. It doesn’t hurt to check and with the popularity of these solar power, you won’t be wanting for expert opinion.


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