9 December 2020 - The contraction of the global economy paired with far-reaching travel restrictions during most of 2020 did not only slow down many industrial sectors but also had a significant impact on the implementation of rural electrification projects in developing economies. After some slow-moving months, ARE Member SustainSolar, a South African provider of off-grid solar power generation solutions, finishes this challenging year with another nine mini-grid systems to still be delivered early 2021.
In response to the COVID crisis, OnePower a mini-grid developer based in Lesotho, ordered seven containerised, rapid deployment off-grid solar systems from SustainSolar to energise remote health clinics and their surrounding communities. The modular, turn-key, high quality product features of the Sustain Compact™ product range ideally address the specific need of remote health facilities. Each system has an initial solar PV capacity of 20 kWp powered by SMA inverters and comes with 51 kWh of Solar MD storage which can be extended to more than double this initial size as electricity demand grows. In the next week, the first two systems will be delivered to their destination in the mountainous kingdom of Lesotho with the aim for the first unit to be installed and running before Christmas. The remaining systems will go live early in the new year.
Another two Sustain Compact™ solutions were ordered by Equatorial Power, a Uganda-based mini-grid developer that has pioneered off-grid electrification and productive uses in Uganda and neighbouring countries. Equipped with pre-installed and pre-tested SMA inverters supporting about 30 kWp of PV capacity and almost 90 kWh of lithium-ion from Solar MD, the SustainSolar containers will travel safely to their destination in DRC where they will be installed and connected to an off-grid distribution system within a matter of days thanks to the turnkey, pre-configured system design and configuration.
Undeterred by the global slow-down, SustainSolar leveraged its regional and industry knowledge and successfully joined the European Investment Programme GET.invest for support with the refinement of its innovative asset leasing proposition for mini-grid developers. The Cape Town based company is currently designing several pilots to prove that an asset leasing model commonly used in other more mature industries like construction and mining can be an attractive alternative to traditional CAPEX financing. Designed to address some of the most important hurdles faced by mini-grid developers, SustainSolar’s leasing model drastically increases project survivability by lowering CAPEX, improving mini-grid project returns and speeding up scaling. A pilot phase to test and validate the model with a number of enthusiastic mini-grid developers is scheduled to launch in January.
Founded in 2018, SustainSolar offers turnkey containerised, pre-installed solar systems equipped with top-quality solar PV electronics including lithium-ion batteries which come in three standardised yet adjustable product configurations from small to large to suit a wide range of energy needs. With its commitment to quality, a rapidly growing track record on the African continent, and an expanding network of local partners, SustainSolar is a preferred solution provider for mini-grid developers as well as off-grid and hybrid fuel saving applications. SustainSolar strives to reduce implementation risk for project developers, alleviates operational hassles such as sourcing, logistics and commissioning and offers asset financing for its product range.