South Africa was rocked with a new round of load shedding in June this year, as Stage 4 load shedding was announced. This resulted in customers’ electricity being cut 12 times over four days. This was devastating to businesses, industries, and the South African economy, which loses R500-million for each load shedding stage [1, 2].
Although President Ramaphosa announced changes to the Electricity Regulation Act, which will see new electricity providers enter the market, reducing dependency on Eskom , load shedding will remain part of South Africans' lives for the foreseeable future . Working in the dark isn’t an option and businesses and industries should adapt to alternative energy solutions to keep the power on.
Eastern Cape’s business chamber takes the lead, goes green
After almost eight years of load shedding disruptions, Border-Kei Chamber of Business installed alternative power solutions after struggling businesses approached the Chamber for strategies to help mitigate their losses from load shedding, without the need to purchase generators [4, 5].
Border-Kei became the country’s first green business chamber, going off-the-grid in 2016, except for the air-conditioning system, which demands high energy [4, 5].
How Border-Kei Chamber of Business went off-the-grid
After an audit of their energy demands and efficiencies, the chamber installed LED lighting and passive motion sensors. Although they reduced their electricity demand, they were still affected by load shedding [4, 5].
The chamber decided to install a backup system of grid-tied solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. This system is powered by two uninterruptable power supply (UPS) converters and battery banks . Using this new electricity system saves the chamber thousands of Rand in annual electricity bills and keeps their lights on even during a power outage.
Generous donations from several companies, including battery banks from South Africa’s leading battery manufacturer First National Battery, made renewable energy for the chamber possible.
Reliable battery power for UPS
The chambers’ UPS converters are powered by gel-filled battery banks which ensure continuous power to the building even during load shedding [4, 5]. Businesses and industries looking to power their off-grid applications should look for reliable and robust batteries with the following benefits :
- Low self-discharge rate: Batteries have high performance due to the low self-discharge rate.
- Long service life: Grid design and technology has extended the battery service life.
- Maintenance-free: Technology advancements and proper battery care mean battery banks can be maintenance-free, with no topping up required.
- Recyclable: At the end of its long battery life, it is important to recycle the battery. Recycling batteries will prevent harmful elements from polluting landfills and contaminating water which is detrimental to people, the environment and animals.
As the first green business chamber in the country, the Border-Kei Chamber of Business is the blueprint for businesses and industries to go off-the-grid. The chamber found a way to bring light into their darkness and found a solution to supply their neighbours with a stable supply of power .
About First National Battery
First National Battery is South Africa's leading battery manufacturer for industries and applications ranging from automotive (including industrial, commercial and passenger vehicles), mining, railway and renewable energy to surface traction, telecommunications, and standby battery solutions. Their vehicle battery solutions are trusted by all leading car manufacturers in South Africa. They produce more than 2,2- million batteries each year and export their leading solutions to more than 40 countries. For more information, please visit https://www.battery.co.za
 Timeslive Explainer: “What Eskom's stage 4 load-shedding means”, https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2021-06-09-explainer-what-eskoms-stage-4-load-shedding-means, 9 June 2021.
 Business Tech: “Load shedding cost South Africa around R25 billion in the last two weeks: MEC”, https://businesstech.co.za/news/energy/497749/load-shedding-cost-south-africa-around-r25-billion-in-the-last-two-weeks-mec/, 10 June 2021.
 Business Tech: “Expect 5 more years of load shedding for South Africa - these charts show why”, https://businesstech.co.za/news/energy/475990/expect-5-more-years-of-load-shedding-for-south-africa-these-charts-show-why, 16 March 2021.
 Show Me: “First GREEN Business Chamber in South Africa”, https://showme.co.za/east-london/news/business-news/bkcob-first-green-business-chamber-in-south-africa, 30 September 2016.
 Dispatchlive: “Leading to a green future”, Business Hi-Lite. Greening chamber offices. https://www.dispatchlive.co.za/news/2016-09-30-leading-to-a-green-future, 30 September 2016.
 First National Battery: https://www.battery.co.za/products/standby/ups
Contact First National Battery, Tel 011 741-3600, firstname.lastname@example.org