The Business Case for Going Solar Through Sun Exchange

Published: 11 Jan 2019

Why every school and business in South Africa should go solar at zero upfront cost with guaranteed energy savings for 20 Years

Schools and businesses in South Africa can now get solar installed for free, save on their electricity bills over the lifetime of the installation, and reduce pressure on the national grid - without spending any money upfront.

Through the Sun Exchange solar micro-leasing platform, we bring together our growing community of Sun Exchange members located throughout 90+ countries across the world, and local solar cell off-takers, like schools and businesses. Sun Exchange members buy solar cells, and these solar cells are then installed in schools and businesses across South Africa, as explained here by Sun Exchange CEO, Abe Cambridge.

This creates an unprecedented opportunity for organisations to go solar in a more accessible and affordable manner than previously possible. We’ve summed it up for you with these top 5 reasons why your school or business should consider joining the Sun Exchange community:

1. The installation is free and energy cost savings are guaranteed.

Why use your own capital to pay for a solar system? Why struggle to find financing for buying solar systems? Why keep paying more for electricity?

The beauty of being a Sun Exchange off-taker is that you’re not charged for the equipment nor the installation, because these costs are carried by the solar cell owners.

The other benefit is that each project’s energy savings are guaranteed from day one. One such project is SouthSouthNorth, a non-profit based in Cape Town, which has an 18 kW system which helps SSN save 35% on their energy consumed when compared to what they should have paid. As shown in the graphic, savings can range from ~15% in year one, to ~45% by Year 20.

2. The system can go live quickly.

Unlike coal-fired plants, which can take years to build, solar energy installations can be erected fast, and your project can go live within about three months.

As shown in the graphic above, if you accept Sun Exchange’s free and no-obligation proposal, there will be an energy assessment and the project will be designed in around four weeks. The fundraising phase, during which Sun Exchange’s members are invited to purchase the project’s solar cells, last another four weeks or so. The final phase is construction, which lasts about another four weeks.

Sun Exchange’s quickest installation to date, was the Kal Tire project, a tyre recycling facility in Rustenburg, which went from the initial proposal to energy generation in 10 weeks.

3. Insurance and maintenance of the system are free.

If your school or business buys your own solar system, you will carry the the risk of poor quality workmanship or equipment, and the cost of maintenance and upkeep.

However, installations through the Sun Exchange platform are fully insured and maintained at no additional cost to you.

4. Alleviate energy demand on the national grid, and help prevent load shedding.

Load shedding during 2008 cost the South African economy an estimated R2 billion a day, with smaller businesses feeling the impacts most keenly. With load shedding starting again in late 2018, and with predictions that it could continue for a whopping five years, your business or school can help reduce the demand on the grid by generating your own electricity.

One Sun Exchange project, the 15 kW project at the Waldorf School in Stellenbosch, has generated over 58 MWh of electricity for the school since 2016. All systems are grid-tied, which means that any excess electricity generated by the school is fed into the grid. Kal Tire has a 45 kW plant which has generated over 105 MWh of electricity since 2017.

5. The project will have sustainability and branding benefits.

Operating more sustainably has important benefits for the brand of your school and business. One study estimates that nine out of ten consumers expect companies to do more than making a profit, expecting companies to operate in a socially and environmentally responsible fashion.

For schools in South Africa, solar installations also have benefits for another type of consumer - the learners. When the students at Sacred Heart College (with its 117.4 kW system) turn on their tablets or computers, they know that the equipment is powered by the sun, and that’s a powerful way to learn about renewable energy and sustainability.

Collectively, by joining Sun Exchange, schools and businesses have had an immense impact on our planet. Together, they’ve offset a total of nearly 200,000 kg of CO2 , the equivalent of 9,000 trees planted, or 312 transatlantic flights.

To find out more, or to get a no-obligation proposal for your school or business, contact us.