South Africa was rocked with a new round of loadshedding in June, as stage four power cuts were announced. During stage four loadshedding, customers’ electricity is cut 12 times over four days. This is devastating to businesses, industries and the South African economy, which loses R500 million for each loadshedding stage.
Although President Ramaphosa announced changes to the Electricity Regulation Act, which will see new electricity providers enter the market thereby reducing dependency on Eskom, loadshedding will remain part of South Africans’ lives for the foreseeable future. Working in the dark isn’t an option and businesses and industries need to adapt to alternative energy solutions to keep the power on.
Eastern Cape’s business chamber takes the lead and goes green
After almost eight years of loadshedding disruptions, Border-Kei Chamber of Business took action and installed alternative power solutions. The chamber made this decision after struggling businesses approached them for strategies to help mitigate their losses from loadshedding, without the need to purchase generators. They became the country’s first green business chamber, going off-the-grid in 2016, except for their air-conditioner which demands high energy.
How Border-Kei Chamber of Business went off-the-grid
After an audit of their energy demands and efficiencies, the chamber installed LED lighting and passive motion sensors. Although they reduced their electricity demand, they were still affected by loadshedding.
The chamber decided to install a backup system of grid-tied solar photo voltaic panels. This system is powered by two Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) converters and battery banks. Using this new electricity system saves the chamber thousands of Rands in annual electricity bills and keeps their lights on even during a power outage.
Generous donations from several companies, including battery banks from South Africa’s leading battery manufacturer First National Battery, made renewable energy for the chamber possible.
Reliable battery power for UPS during loadshedding
The chambers’ UPS converters are powered by gel-filled battery banks that ensures continuous power to the building even during loadshedding. Businesses and industries looking to power their off-grid applications should look for reliable and robust batteries with the following benefits:
Low self-discharge rate
Batteries have high performance due to the low self-discharge rate.
Long service life
Grid design and technology has extended the battery service life.
Technology advancements and proper battery care mean battery banks can be maintenance-free, with no topping up required.
At the end of its long battery life, it is important to recycle the battery. Recycling batteries will prevent harmful elements from polluting landfills and contaminating water which is detrimental to people, the environment and animals.
As the first green business chamber in the country, the Border-Kei Chamber of Business is the blueprint for businesses and industries to go off-the-grid. The chamber found a way to bring light into their darkness, and found a solution to supply their neighbours with a stable supply of power.