Dolphin Bay has installed solar power at its Mossel Bay plant, in a move that will ensure uninterrupted manufacturing of our CCA in the short term while saving money in the long term.
The system “removes the guillotine that hangs over the head of so many manufacturers,” observed Bertus. “It gives us comfort that we have power no matter what happens with Eskom.”
The Mossel Bay plant is in an area that was not previously affected by loadshedding, so the system was installed as part of a long-term vision for a sustainable power supply, and as a sound financial investment, rather than due to immediate necessity.
In his 2023 Budget Speech, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana announced that South African businesses could reduce their taxable income by 125% of the cost of an investment in renewable energy. That incentive was a key factor in Dolphin Bay’s decision. “The rebates you get on a solar installation make a significant difference,” said Bertus. “When we factor those in and consider Eskom’s expected price increases, we estimate that we will have paid off this unit within four to five years. It makes absolute sense from an investment perspective.”
Businesses and households across South Africa are doing the same. According to data shared by Eskom and energy expert Professor Anton Eberhard, South Africa’s total installed rooftop solar PV capacity increased from 983MW in March 2022 to 4.4GW in June 2023. That’s a 349% increase in just over a year. Further research from investment bank Morgan Stanley, suggests that the boom in private power will see electricity generated by the private sector exceeding Eskom’s output by 2025.
“It makes absolute sense from an investment perspective.”
“Some of our clients have also taken their plants solar,” said Bertus. “However, most are still using diesel generators.” Dolphin Bay considered generators for its Sabie plant, but after running a cost comparison between a diesel generator and solar power with a battery, the solar option quickly emerged as the better choice.
“It was an eye-opening exercise,” Bertus said. “A generator has set-up costs, after which you burn hundreds of thousands of rands of diesel.”
Solar simply made more sense, taking the Mossel Bay plant largely off the grid. “We may have to pull power from the grid during the winter months, but I suspect we’ll be within the margins.”
Reliable energy is non-negotiable for businesses like Dolphin Bay. “We recently automated our factories, so we rely heavily on electricity,” Bertus explained. “It’s never healthy for electronics to be switched off suddenly, which is another reason we went for solar – and a very large battery!”
“We’re very happy with the decision. When you do a solar installation, you’re astonished that you haven’t done it sooner, and that more people aren’t doing it.”