Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm at dawn. JCRA director, Lionel Kruger, says by Eskom claiming that solar photovoltaic and wind-generated power is too expensive and refusing to sign power producer agreements, the electricity provider is effectively crippling the momentum of an industry that generates high foreign investment and puts South Africa at the forefront of renewable energy uptake.Photo: EPA
Cape Town - Rooftop solar firms All Power Systems and Fusion Energy have merged to form Synthesis Power Holdings, which will benefit clients in the renewable energy sector by offering funding solutions.

The move is expected to introduce innovative ­funding to reduce the cost of rooftop solar.

Rooftop solar is set to make a big impact, particularly with the recent turbulence associated with the renewable energy independent power producers programme. South Africa is positioned as a leader in renewable energy investment on the continent.

The market is likely to be transformed with the arrival of Synthesis, a Level 2 BEE enterprise that has developed an innovative way to fund and install rooftop solar installations and has targeted equity valued at R200 million for its initial installations.

Excellent return

Synthesis said commercial rooftop installations within its current model offered an excellent return to equity investors and was looking to secure optimum and competitive debt funding from commercial institutions to enhance the offering.

Synthesis provided solar energy solutions which had been developed by a team of experts that included some of the most senior and well respected energy legal and technical experts in the industry and over the last 15 years the team has overseen the energy operations of 1000 buildings around the country, including the V&A Waterfront, Tygervalley Mall in Cape Town and Melrose Arch in Joburg.

Synthesis chief executive Jay Naidoo said the firm was created to provide ultimate solar rooftop propositions to its clients, one which sets the bar high in, among others, funding offerings, design, integration, installation, project management, after-sales support, operations and maintenance and ongoing management and reporting services.

“This venture is the culmination of many, many years of experience within the exact field of energy management for commercial buildings. Our ultimate goal is to provide the highest quality of service, whilst maintaining world-leading quality standards.”

Naidoo said that with an average of eight hours of sun a day, it made economic sense for businesses to gain from photovoltaic solar rooftop ­panels.

He said Synthesis provided long-term economically viable solutions to its clients. The firm has 14 branches around the country to support installations, 200 staff available nationally, comprehensive energy solutions and continuous energy management.

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Meanwhile, JCRA, a leading financial risk consultancy, last week released a paper in partnership with the Centre for Economic and Business Research, looking at Eskom’s dilemma and its cost to the South African economy.

This was in referral to Eskom’s announcement in July last year that it would not sign any independent power producers on to the South African grid, which threw the renewables sector into disarray.

Too expensive

Lionel Kruger, director at JCRA, said by the power utility claiming that solar photovoltaic and wind-generated power were too expensive and refusing to sign power producer agreements, the electricity provider effectively crippled the momentum of an industry that generated high foreign investment and put South Africa at the forefront of renewable energy uptake.

“South Africa has favourable solar and wind resources, with few land constraints, and as the per unit costs of various renewable energy types ­continue to fall, Eskom’s choice to delay the uptake of renewable energy makes little economic sense.”

The consultancy said that in South Africa, the renewable energy independent power producer procurement programme attracted R196 billion of investment from 2011 to last year and aimed to attract another R550 billion by 2020.

Kruger said the reason for the stand-off was a concern.

“By controlling the means by which new suppliers can enter, Eskom is essentially in control of the market in which it operates.”