Pioneering South African solar energy provider SolarAfrica has been named the continent’s leading solar energy firm, scooping the Africa Solar Industry Association’s (AFSIA’s) African Solar Company of the Year award at a ceremony held in London on 16 November 2021.
AFSIA’s annual Solar Awards recognises exceptional talent and achievements in the African solar market, celebrating companies and individuals that have made an ‘outstanding’ contribution to promoting and advancing the use of solar across Africa through good practice, professionalism, quality, safety and innovation.
SolarAfrica’s win came in recognition of the company being the first to successfully market solar Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) to residential and commercial power users in South Africa since its inception in 2011.
Ten years later the business has over 50 staff members and has financed over 125 projects across Sub Saharan Africa – equating to more than 55 MW in total energy provided.
Together with financing partners, Commercial Energy SA, the company has provided its customers with a capex-free solar solution that delivers long-term monetary savings and improves their environmental footprint by reducing their CO2 emissions.
To date, SolarAfrica’s impact on the environment has resulted in a reduction of 47 000 tonnes of carbon emissions, which is equivalent to 30-million kg of coal. With that in mind, SolarAfrica is predicted to save their customers over R500-million in lifetime savings across their entire portfolio which relates to more than 1,3-million tonnes of CO2.
Accepting the award on behalf of the team, SolarAfrica Chief Investment Officer Charl Alheit described the excitement of witnessing the growth of the African solar market over the last decade.
“What's really encouraging is that the growth in the solar market has been based predominantly on a financial decision, being that solar is generally cheaper than the alternative. The environmental benefits are merely a bonus. This reality will ensure the sustainability and resilience of this market going forward.
We’re expecting a very exciting decade ahead and are excited to be part of a more sustainable energy mix going forward,” he said.
SolarAfrica’s ten-year involvement in the industry has been marked by several notable achievements:
- The installation of the first grid tied PPA in Kenya in 2013
- The first to launch its solar proposal and project development software tool called Unifii, which enables businesses to create solar proposals within minutes
- Later that year, the company launched their residential product and signed the first residential (body corporate) PPA in South Africa
- The company funded the largest battery system in Africa in 2016, which was also the first Tesla PowerPack installed on the continent
- In 2016, SolarAfrica won the Frost & Sullivan Award for South African Solar Rooftop PV Entrepreneurial Company of the Year
- In 2020, SolarAfrica signed and constructed one of the largest solar carports in the world for Ford Motor Company Southern Africa
SolarAfrica’s residential and commercial PPA solution
SolarAfrica provides a solar finance solution through a PPA that enables users to reduce their monthly electricity costs by up to 30% and become more sustainable organisations, without having to pay any upfront capital.
Its fully installed Tier 1 solar PV system requires zero capital investment, while the agreement includes full maintenance, monitoring and insurance throughout the lifetime of the agreement.
The company conducts a full technical review to determine each client’s consumption trends, which ensures that the solar systems provided are customised to provide the best possible cost savings for each client.
All systems are monitored continuously to ensure optimum customer savings and any faulty or broken equipment is covered and replaced at no cost to the client.
“Not only do we offer a guaranteed uptime of 98% on all of our solutions, but the greatest advantage to SolarAfrica’s PPA is our ‘No Take, No Pay’ clause, which means you only pay for the power you use,” says Alheit.