Daily power outages prompt South African enterprises to fund homegrown hybrid solar solutions
MEDIA RELEASE 18 November 2022
Monday 14 November 2022: The power unavailability crisis has cost the economy billions of dollars, according to experts, and significantly disrupts everyday life in the country. As the crisis continues to worsen, South Africa's state-owned utility, Eskom, will be unable to meet the electricity needs of the country over the next five years, the latest statutory assessment of the power system showed.
The scramble to secure independent power solutions has begun, which means, control of addressing the energy crisis has been placed in the hands of businesses and experts who are able to find and implement solutions.
South African enterprises are seemingly providing a light at the end of a narrow tunnel, by committing over ZAR 30 million (USD 1.6 million) in financing to Johannesburg-headquartered Wetility, a hybrid solar solutions provider for homes and small businesses.
Unlike other providers, Wetility offers unique financing solutions such as monthly payment schemes – tapping into a market segment of consumers who were otherwise unable or hesitant to invest in solar equipment upfront.
Wetility has achieved this unique financing model through strategic partnerships with a number of South Africa-based enterprises.
These include Standard Bank (SBSA), one of South Africa’s leading financial services groups, which has committed to providing financing of between ZAR 250 billion to ZAR 300 billion (USD 13.9 billion to USD 16.7 billion) towards sustainable projects between 2021 and 2026.
"Delivering effective solutions through partnerships and providing innovative funding structures to support the energy transition is central to Standard Bank’s commitment.
Our partnership with Wetility targets the expedited rollout of sustainable solutions to homes and businesses faced with the challenges imposed by the power crisis," said Standard Bank’s Executive Head of Natural Resources, Business and Commercial Clients, Berrie de Jager.
Another key player who has partnered with Wetility to address the enormous energy crisis that South African households face, is the African media and entertainment giant, MultiChoice.
The MultiChoice Group (MCG) and Wetility’s partnership dates back to October 2021, when Wetility participated in the MultiChoice Accelerator, a development program for up-and-coming South African companies.
Compelled to ‘enrich lives’, and with a strategic mandate to become a lifestyle partner for its consumers - Multichoice has provided a platform for its own customers to win Wetility solar systems through its customer reward program. Several thousand people have already entered the competition, which is open to the 9 million South African customers who subscribe to DStv.
Wetility’s energy strategies are poised to play a key role in achieving sustainability and energy stabilization in the long run.
“Partnerships like this allow us to introduce the South African market to hybrid solutions that work seamlessly, and in tandem with their current power options. Energy is everything. We want to make sure that homes and businesses have uninterrupted energy when they want it, and whenever they need it,” Wetility’s CEO, Vincent Maposa commented.
But Wetility is facing an uphill battle. South Africa’s power crisis is worsening, with 2022 being the country’s most intensive load-shedding year in history.
To meet the demand for independent power solutions, Wetility is continuing to scale its operations and is currently in the process of closing its Series A funding round.
In a similar fashion to U.S. solar company Sunrun's early days, renewable energy experts expect Wetility to grow its customer acquisitions due to its strategic focus on residential solar. This is due to its leases and subscriptions through channel partners such as technology, media, and telecommunications companies and banks.
After five years of operation, Sunrun had over 50,000 active subscribers, but through partnerships such as Comcast and the acquisition of Vivint, it now has over one million. As there is an addressable market of more than 7.5 million homes for hybrid solar in South Africa, and market penetration is estimated to be below 3%, Wetility has significant growth potential.