ESKOM power woes threatening financial instability; businesses urged to seek alternative power sources

Is load-shedding here to stay? Photo By: Robert Wiedemann on Unsplash

The need for alternative power sources has never been as great as it is now. Eskom is struggling, so businesses and ordinary citizens are naturally struggling too. Power outages and load-shedding not only affect productivity and a business’ ability to make a profit, it spills over to consumers and limits their ability to spend. 

Network towers are affected, meaning transactions are halted or stalled, communication is suspended, and not much can get done during scheduled power cuts. If you are in business during these trying times, and you want to continue to operate at a fairly profitable level, alternative power sources are your only option. 

Businesses like Makro have since made the switch, and some of the products they have on offer can assist you in continuing operations during load-shedding. They are now selling solar panels, and they actually gave away a few in August of this year. Makro deals will give you a variety of products to choose from that are not only suited to meet your business needs during load-shedding but will also ensure that your customers can still use your products or services during that period. While products like solar panels may seem a bit pricey, the opportunity cost of not having them is even higher. There are a wide variety of alternative power sources to choose from; we will tell you about a few of them below. 

Alternative power sources for businesses

1.   Grid-tied systems

This system uses solar power but is still connected to the grid. It kicks in when there is an interruption to the municipal electricity supply, ensuring you are still productive during load-shedding. It is best for commercial and residential use; all you need to do is ensure that it meets your electricity supply needs for those periods. These systems have since been improved to supply over 3500 kWh per month. A good deal, certainly.

2.   Off – Grid systems

Off-grid systems include the use of solar and wind energy to power your business needs. Solar is especially practical because of the amount of sun we get on this side of the equator at no cost at all. These systems are more commonly used in rural areas or places where there is no municipal power installed, but with the constant load-shedding, they are now an alternative even in urban areas. You can use either wind or solar power, a hybrid of the two, depending on what would work best to meet your needs and your location as well.

Wind energy
Africa can fight climate change with clean energy – Photo By: Jason Blackeye on Unsplash

3.   Hydroelectric power (HEP)

The use of HEP works best based on your location, water supply, and definitely your line of business. It follows that since you’ll be using water as a power source, your business has to be located near a body of water whose ease of use will be factored into its capacity to generate electricity in a safe manner for the business and the people around it. This option is for larger businesses, as it is expensive to set up

Advantages of alternative power sources

  1. By using green alternative power sources, you reduce your carbon footprint that would otherwise be generated by the use of fossil fuels. For example, the coal we are still using in South Africa, as well as the use of generators when there is load-shedding is increasing carbon emissions. However, the alternative sources of power mentioned above have minimal to no risk to the ozone layer.
  1. While the initial cost may be a bit pricey, long-term use of the alternates counters the initial expense. Load-shedding is here for the foreseeable future, so one would instead carry the cost of an alternative power source than the more expensive cost of losing the business altogether.
  2. There is little to no pollution with alternative power sources, so the air is cleaner as is the environment. In places where the air can be dense with emissions affecting the public’s health, green alternative power sources do their part in keeping the air as crisp as possible, meaning less risk to our health. 

For small businesses to stay afloat, the use of alternative sources of power is advisable so as not to cripple them at their inception. Depending on your line of business, power sources can be found that can be tailored to your business needs.

solar panels
Solar power is becoming popular in Africa countries such as Malawi, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia to help fight load-shedding, energy poverty and climate change – Photo By: Mischa Frank on  Unsplash

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