South Africa is the largest GHG/C02 emitter in the continent. At the same time the country’s grid system is unreliable with frequent disruptions. More than 1,000,000 jobs have already been lost due to the country’s efforts to de-stress the grid with so called load-shedding efforts. The energy crisis undermines economic growth and investment prospects. Estimates suggest the economy could be at least 8% to 10% larger without the energy crisis. With the persistence of load shedding businesses and individuals suffer and the production of food and provision of social services such as water, sanitation, community, safety are compromised.
A common solution for many business owners and individuals is to run diesel generators during the blackouts. They alleviate the energy need, although inefficiency. They also bring both environmental and health consequences, especially due to its large-scale use. The supermarket chain Pick and Pay for example, is currently on a trajectory to spend 36 million Euro on diesel bills for 2023 alone. Small businesses, which contribute significantly to the economy, are buckling under continued blackouts and resort to generators as well. Even at residential areas, generators produce their toxic fumes during the frequent load shedding hours.
When looking for a problem to solve, one would struggle to find a problem with larger capitas as here. South Africa’s power crisis is having devastating short-term and long-term effects on South Africa’s economy and people. It however also provides for a unique opportunity for change for the better. The switch to renewable energy, in particular solar, can be accelerated.
We are collaborating on a venture with a team that holds decades of experience in data analytics, battery storage and new business building. The aim is to help individuals and businesses better understand their energy use, switch off those appliances that are not really needed, save costs, and create the right information for a set-up to switch to solar systems. The primary focus initially is residential. We aim to provide the needed insights on what households and businesses most need in terms of energy use and smartly automate the use. Providing better data leads to more accurate solar set-ups. We are also including financing solutions to reduce the investment required.
The venture would help people become more grid independent and resilient. It would also help accelerate the transition to renewable energy at scale. The starting point of this venture is South Africa due to its unique pains. It has however strong potential for the product to move well beyond this market as well. In this case, it is only the sun that is the limit.