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Solar and energy storage for business – take control of your energy costs

As businesses face increasing pressure to reduce operational costs and embrace sustainability, solar and energy storage solutions represent an invaluable investment. This is especially true in South Africa amidst ongoing power cuts and load-shedding. These solutions are increasingly more affordable and accessible, with financing solutions such as rent-to-own option bridging the gap, says Rick Rovelli, CEO of Probe. “Businesses that embrace renewable energy can reap significant savings.”

Businesses of all sizes, from small local enterprises to large multinational corporations, are recognising the potential of renewable energy not just as an eco-friendly alternative, but also as a means to save on energy costs. This trend is expected to continue as the cost of renewable energy technologies continues to decrease.

Battery experts for over 60 years, diversified air, power and energy solutions group Probe has developed a specialist division focused on alternative energy solutions in response to escalating customer demand. “Alternative energy has rapidly become a major focus for the business,” says Rovelli. “Our comprehensive range of solutions, harnessing the best global technology and engineered for maximum efficiency, provide businesses with a way to take control of their energy expenditures and ensure stable power supply.”

Efficient energy storage – the key to cost savings and consistent power
Rovelli says while grid-tied solar can save costs, the key to energy independence lies in efficient energy storage. “Advanced battery storage solutions like those we source from Encap, Enerbond, Max-Li and Blue Volt allow businesses to store the surplus energy produced during sunlight hours for use during peak demand periods or power outages. This not only ensures a consistent power supply but also helps avoid costly peak demand charges.”

Flexible containerised solutions save costs
With efficient battery storage in place, containerised solutions are part of Probenergy’s approach to adaptable and robust renewable systems. “These self-contained units are designed for mobility and ease of installation, offering a cost-effective plug-and-play solution that can be readily deployed in a variety of settings, from remote industrial sites to urban commercial locations. We’re able to ensure a reliable and uninterrupted power supply that can withstand challenging environments,” explains Rovelli.

Time running out on tax incentives
In addition to direct savings on energy costs, businesses that invest in renewable energy can also take advantage of various government incentives. These include tax credits, grants, and loans, which can help offset the initial investment in renewable energy infrastructure.

South Africa offers significant tax incentives for businesses investing in renewable energy solutions. The Section 12B tax allowance is an attractive provision that allows for a 100% write-off of the cost of renewable energy installations, including solar photovoltaics, in the first year. This incentive is designed to encourage businesses to invest in renewable energy by significantly reducing their taxable income in the year the investment is made. Extended until 28 February 2025, this initiative aligns with the government’s broader commitment to increase the uptake of clean energy and foster a more sustainable economy. Additionally, businesses may be eligible for further deductions through the allowance for energy efficiency savings which promotes the adoption of more efficient energy practices.

Eligibility for renewable incentive schemes often includes assets used to generate electricity, including the structures they’re mounted on. However, Rovelli says there’s been some confusion regarding storage and conversion assets, like batteries and inverters. “If they’re part of a system generating electricity, they should qualify. However, if they’re used simply to store power from the grid, they most likely wouldn’t qualify as this is not aligned to the government policy objective of encouraging more generation capacity. It’s best to go for the full solar system,” he explains. “Decisions are made by SARS on a case-by-case basis.”

For those struggling to finance renewable energy assets, the Energy Bounce-Back (EBB) Loan Guarantee Scheme is there to support. Available through selected banks, DFIs and non-bank SME finance providers, the EBB scheme hopes to encourage an additional 1,000MW of power through rooftop solar by 30 Aug 2024, whilst aiding small businesses and households with their load-shedding struggles.

Probenergy offers an attractive rent-to-own model that makes solar energy affordable for residential, commercial, and industrial solutions. “At Probenergy, we understand that financing a solar solution may be the best way to maximise returns sustainably,” says Rovelli. “We’ve worked closely with funders to ensure customers don’t need to take shortcuts on the systems they need.”

Getting started
The first step to embracing solar energy is a site inspection and energy audit, says Rovelli. “Our certified installers conduct a thorough inspection to understand your needs and refine the quoting process. The energy audit measures your energy usage over a week, providing valuable data for an optimum design. This service costs R1995 as a standalone service, which will be deducted from the installation costs. We can help you become as energy efficient as possible.”

Solar energy with effective energy storage offers businesses a way to take control of their energy costs, ensure reliable power supply, and maximise their return on investment, Rovelli concludes. “We’re committed to redefining energy storage and empowering individuals, businesses, and industries to transition to renewable energy sources with turnkey solutions and effective financing.”