Powertech System Integrators introduced a fully funded, off balance sheet solar rooftop photovoltaic (PV) solution for South Africa’s rapidly expanding renewable energy sector.
The offering, aimed at corporates, allows customers access to a hybrid energy solution that utilises both grid power and solar energy, resulting in long-term savings. This is a viable solution for South Africa’s large energy users who are subject to high electricity tariffs that are increasingly pushing up operating costs and impacting the bottom line. This grid-tied system is placed on a rooftop or shaded car park and is based on two major components: PV modules that are able to convert sunlight into current, and an inverter (or multiples thereof) that is able to convert the direct current (DC) power generated by the PV modules, into usable alternating current (AC) power.
The solution is aimed at companies with large roof space and constant base loads seven days a week, such as mining companies, commercial property owners and industrial facilities. “Most firms find renewable solutions prohibitive because a large capital outlay is usually intrinsic to the process,’’ says Kobus Morgan, Executive for Strategic Projects at PTSI. “Recognising this as a critical hurdle to implementation, PTSI’s model allows for the system to be built and owned by PTSI and the electricity generated to be provided through a power purchase agreement (PPA).The price of electricity produced by the PV system, will be equal to the tariff currently in place, less a nominal discount. As long as the sun shines and the PV system produces energy (kWh), customers will be guaranteed a saving. An added benefit is that operation and maintenance is handled by PTSI.’’
The PPA offer by PTSI is unique as it allows the customer “buy-back” options during the contract period. Solar PV has become one of the fastest growing sources of energy in the world, with the local commercial rooftop industry (excluding the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement, REIPPP programme) generating approximately 15MW in 2014.
Rooftop PV can also form part of a smart or micro grid where electricity usage automatically switches between power sources as and when needed; ensuring a consistent supply of energy during outages. PTSI currently has a rooftop solar PV rooftop system at its head office in Pretoria, generating 60 kW of DC power, converted to 50kW of AC power.