In January, Versofy Solar received over 1500 enquiries from Cape Town alone. The company offers a range of solar solutions, including rent-to-own and solar subscriptions, ranging from an entry-level system priced at R1 999 a month.
The intense interest was in no small part due to Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis’s announcement of his cash-for-power programme. From June businesses and, soon thereafter, residents with City-approved generation capacity will be paid to feed their excess energy back into the grid.
Further fuelling national interest in solar, in his State of the Nation Address, President Ramaphosa declared the energy crisis a State of Disaster, and announced that businesses and households that install solar panels would benefit from tax incentives. (In July 2022 the President stated that “those who can and have installed solar panels in their homes or businesses will be able to sell surplus power they don’t need to Eskom”. This feed-in tariff was not mentioned in the SONA address but may still be in play.)
“We strongly support these moves,” says Ross Mains-Sheard, Director at Versofy. “The biggest problem that Eskom faces currently is their inability to generate sufficient energy to meet demand. Allowing those with embedded generation systems to feed their excess into the grid effectively increases generation capacity using private capital. By paying these solar customers for their excess power, the City of Cape Town will create a virtuous cycle, as will the government’s proposed tax breaks. The case for solar is even more appealing, incentivising more people to invest in solar, which further drives adoption and subsequent economies of scale.”
The main objection to 100% renewable power, says Mains-Sheard, is the fact that wind and solar are reliant on natural conditions and cannot provide the continuous base load power that the national grid requires. “In the short-term, we agree that a stable grid will be a hybrid of traditional power plants, such as nuclear and coal, but with a much larger contribution of renewable generation coming from wind and solar.”
Storage of renewable energy holds the key, he adds. “At a micro view, rooftop solar with storage has proved that renewables have the ability to provide perpetual energy generation. When aggregated, it has the ability to make a meaningful difference to both the adoption of renewables and, more importantly, dependence on the national grid.”
In the past year, Versofy has supplied:
- Over 9 000 solar panels which are producing more than 18MWh/day (4.14MW installed).
- More than 1 700 batteries, equating to approximately 9MMh of energy storage.
- 1 000 inverters
To put that in perspective, 18MWh/day:
Can power a typical 300-bed hospital
Can power approximately 1 000 households, and
Equates to approximately R1.5m/month worth of savings
*Note: the above figures are estimates and may vary depending on usage.
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