SOLA obtains ISO 9001:2015

SOLA Future Energy obtains ISO 9001:2015 Quality Certification

SOLA Future Energy has obtained its ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management Systems certification. The certification, maintained by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), is an internationally-recognised metric to validate the quality of a company’s management systems. Having the certification shows SOLA’s commitment to offering a world-class level of service for designing, constructing and maintaining PV systems.

SOLA Future Energy is a company that believes in powering Africa’s prosperity through clean, affordable energy. Since its establishment, the company has constructed over 12.5 MW of solar systems, mainly on commercial and industrial buildings, retail centres and microgrids. The ISO 9001:2015 certification was awarded once a process of internal and external auditing of SOLA’s ability to design, construct and maintain solar PV systems was completed.

“Certification for the standard was a lengthy process that involved the participation of the whole company,” said Dom Wills, CEO of SOLA Future Energy. In May 2016, SOLA began implementing the quality management system, in line with the latest ISO9001:2015 standard. “Over a period of 6 months, the quality team worked with SOLA staff members and management to intricately understand the processes and management structures used to deliver on solar projects. Each process was formally documented and a baseline for improvements was established,” Wills added.

The Quality Standard, which formally documents processes, as well as roles and responsibilities and applicable metrics, also involves SOLA suppliers. “Our management-approved suppliers list forms part of our Quality Certification, and it ensures our control over the quality of goods and services received by clients,” said Wills.

SOLA Future Energy recently signed an agreement with Atterbury Property Developments to provide PV for their portfolio of properties, and has also opened a Johannesburg branch to service clients across Africa. “The company is growing from strength to strength, and our ISO 9001 certification is part of that,” Wills stated.

The ISO9001:2015 certificate is valid for 3 years and the company will undergo yearly audits by the certification body, TÜV Rheinland.

SOLA ISO 9001:2015 certification

SOLA and Atterbury Property Developments partnership to see 20 MW solar capacity built

SOLA Future Energy and Atterbury partnership to see 20 MW solar capacity built over next few years

SOLA Future Energy and Atterbury Property Developments have partnered to provide high quality solar energy and electrical storage solutions to the Atterbury portfolio of properties. The parties entered an agreement in May 2017, which will guide the installation of 20MW of solar PV systems on properties which Atterbury have developed.

James Ehlers, Managing Director of the Atterbury Property Developments, stated, “We as Atterbury realised that we needed solar-smart solutions, as this will become a vital part of property industry going forward.  We have taken a decision to partner with specialists in the industry. After extensive consultation with role players in the industry, SOLA were our partners of choice and we look forward to working with a leader in the field of solar technology.”

With over 12.5 MW of solar capacity under operation across several large rooftop PV systems, SOLA Future Energy is well positioned to carry out the work for Atterbury. SOLA will provide the design and engineering services for the full 20MW, ensuring that the solar solutions to all of these developments are optimised. They will also manage the installation during the project development phase, and will assist Atterbury with the ongoing operation and maintenance of the systems.

Dom Wills, CEO of SOLA Future Energy, commented, “We are excited to work with a progressive partner such as Atterbury who share our vision in decentralised energy.  Solar PV presents an excellent opportunity to reduce operating costs over the long term, increasing property value and competitiveness.  Working on a bulk portfolio also allows us to best advise on the overall solar strategy for the group.” After a solar system is installed, it generally pays itself off within five years, providing the property with at least 20 further years of free energy.

The cost reductions of solar technology have made investment in solar systems an essential consideration for property owners in achieving cost efficiency and enhancing yields. Many companies are realising that solar can provide much cheaper energy per kilowatt hour than the energy provided by the centralised grid.

The agreement currently covers all Atterbury projects in South Africa as well as selected projects in Africa and abroad.

SOLA Future Energy opens its Johannesburg Office

SOLA Opens its doors in Johannesburg

Since its foundation in Cape Town in 2013, SOLA Future Energy has now an officially established Johannesburg branch to service clients in the Gauteng region, as well as neighboring African countries. In Gauteng, SOLA Future Energy has already carried out several projects, including Growthpoint’s Key West Mall, Sasol’s Cradlestone Mall,  Goldfields Head Office, and three systems for Netcare Hospitals. In addition, the company has recently secured agreements with Atterbury Property Group and Ekurhuleni Municipality, which both promise several more MW capacity of projects in the pipeline.

“SOLA has designed, constructed and continues to maintain a diverse portfolio of projects – and having a base in Johannesburg will help to expand that. African businesses are realising that putting solar on their roofs makes good business sense,” said Jonathan Skeen, GM of SOLA Future Energy Johannesburg.

Since opening its doors in Cape Town in 2013, SOLA Future Energy has been responsible for the design, construction and monitoring of 25 large rooftop PV systems, resulting in over 11 MW of installed capacity across South Africa.  Included in this portfolio is Redefine’s Black River Park, one of the first buildings in Cape Town to successfully sell electricity back on to the municipal grid and Robben Island, a fully self-sufficient hybrid PV battery project.

At the launch of their Johannesburg office, SOLA focused on the latest trends in solar technology and its application in a business context. Just a few years ago, the adoption of solar was rare – and even unappealing – to business. “In the past few years, we’ve seen an exponential growth in the interest, and adoption, of solar systems as the business case becomes clearer. We now need business to believe in the value of distributed energy versus grid systems,” said Dom Wills, CEO of SOLA Future Energy.

The Johannesburg office of SOLA Future Energy is based at Commerce Square, 39 Rivonia Road. If you would like to set up a meeting about a potential project in Johannesburg, please contact us.

Intersolar Europe SOLA Future

Takeaways from Intersolar 2017: the latest and greatest in solar technology

​SOLA CEO, Dom Wills, and CTO, Ian Burger, attended the world’s largest gathering of solar professionals in Munich last week. Below follows a few takeaways from the conference.

A positive outlook

Much of the Intersolar conference focused on the global outlook of the industry during 2016 and using that perspective to predict on the future of solar and its applications. Looking back is informative: in 2016, the world built 76 GW of solar power, which amounted to a conservative turnover of around US$ 85 billion. Much of the market was in China; the US, Japan and India were also very big players.

The pricing of solar is steadily shrinking; as more solar PV is deployed, investors’ confidence increases and increased volume and efficiency means that capex costs are coming down. Although this is a fantastic outlook for solar – and has been the reason for the sector’s exponential growth over the last few years – it is changing the way in which solar is deployed and potentially sold.

China, for example, curtails around 15-20% of its solar power: in other words, the spot price for solar energy is 0, 20% of the time.  The curtailment is factored into the financial model, but an obvious opportunity exists to harness and sell that energy as the penetration of solar increases.  This has huge potential for utility battery storage, because businesses – or even individuals – can buy power for nothing at time of excess, and then sell in high times of need.  Business opportunities also exist to sell ancillary services to the grid, such as frequency or voltage support.

This is great news for people and for industry as a whole – the future could easily see energy being extremely cheap, if not free. For businesses in energy, the business model will be built around power – storing the cheap energy produced by the sun, and selling it back to consumers when it is not shining. It’s likely that tariff structures might change to accommodate this, and that manufacturers and other energy-guzzlers are incentivised to ramp-up operations during the day, when the sun is shining and energy will be cheap.

Away from baseload

The outlook on heavy baseload and centralised grid energy infrastructure is not only becoming more unpopular, the general perception is that the forward costs of nuclear and coal could potentially put economies at risk. Because manufacturing competitiveness relies heavily on energy costs, countries with the lowest energy costs will thrive and those with expensive power will fail.  As such, careful consideration needs to be made as to which energy sources to prioritise. Centralised, baseload-heavy grids are no longer required, competitive or appealing in the global market.

On the positive side of this, microgrid tech is an exciting prospect for countries with little or fragmented access to energy. It’s predicted that microgrids are going to be cheaper than fossil fuels, and Africa is a perfect market for microgrids because of its lack of fixed-line infrastructure. The potential for many more to have access to power is within reach and will not be expensive to deploy.

Storage, storage, storage

Storage was, predictably, one of the major topics at the conference. The general sentiment amongst technical experts is that for every unit of solar PV that is installed from now on, some storage must be included – even if it has to be subsidised at first. The inclusion of storage will be important to avoid large-scale solar PV becoming a nuisance to the grid or having large amounts of curtailment. If storage is incorporated with every PV system, the scale will also assist in bringing down the cost of lithium ion technology – and thus the price of batteries.

Storage came up for other technologies, too. Electric vehicles will increase the demand for electricity in coming years, an flexible charging will be important with on-board storage, so that they can buy electricity when it is cheapest and during peak PV hours. However, there is still much to be done in the way of making cars and their systems smarter.

Hydrogen and Methane were also a topic of discussion on the storage front, as both gases can be created from electricity using chemical processes. Exploring this link opens up the opportunity for long term seasonal and annual storage options which will be particularly useful in countries with large imbalance between summer and winter.

Smart and automated

In line with global technology trends, the Internet of Things is popping up in the energy world, too. Experts believe that IoT It will play a role in allowing ‘smartification’ of devices to use energy efficiently or use energy at specific times, depending on the cost.  This links heavily with the substantial amount of ‘smart home tech’ that is being developed to automate and increase efficiency in households. Drones and robots, too, are a hot topic up for debate. From operations and cleaning to testing and surveillance, they are going to become a useful player in making solar PV more efficient.

SOLA will be hosting an information session on findings from Intersolar Europe on 29 June. If you would like to attend, please get in contact. 

Intersolar Europe

Reflections from Intersolar, day 1

SOLA CEO, Dom Wills and CTO, Ian Burger, are currently in Munich for Intersolar Europe – the world’s largest gathering of solar professionals. Below are some reflections from the first day of the conference. Follow updates on Twitter.


Intersolar Europe 1

2016 was a record year for solar energy

Reduced costs and better technology paints a sunny picture for solar

Overall, 2016 was a record year for solar. This is due to not only increased uptake, but also reduced cost of materials. Overall, the levelised cost of energy – or, what solar energy costs comparative to other sources such as coal and wind –  has come down by 58% in the past 7 years, and storage by 40% in the past 4 years. Both of these factors are predicted to either reduce at the same rate or even an increased rate. This paints a positive picture for the future of solar and its affordability.Technical advances in the actual making of solar panels – such as integrating Silver deposits in silicon wafers that solar panels are made of – is expected to increase the efficiency of solar cells by 0.24%, perhaps even increasing to 0.35% over the next year. These technical aspects, combined with reducing costs of storage, could mean that solar far outstrips its energy competitors in coming years.

Operations and Maintenance key to solar’s effectiveness

Operations and Maintenance of solar was also a key part of the discussion, with the costs of this still needing to be reduced significantly. As more plants are built, there is a need to maintain them; however, costs of maintenance are still relatively high. Soiling losses – or dirt on solar panels that reduces their generating capacity – can be as high as 20%, particularly in dry or dusty areas. This makes the importance of maintaining solar systems even more poignant. Automation, digitization and standardisation will be key components to achieving costs reductions for operation and maintenance.

The development of specific standards for solar, such as international standard DIN77055-1, are currently being compiled and will look to be published in early 2018. Standards such as these focus on record keeping and standardising procedures, which will likely be beneficial for developing the relevant software portals for PV plants in the future.

In conclusion

Overall, the first day of Intersolar Europe was one packed to the brim with positive stories of solar, and how both costs and technology are advancing in the technology’s favour. From the perspective of technical leaders in the field, the future really does look bright.

Follow SOLA CEO, Dom Wills, for updates.

Visit the Intersolar Europe Website.

Contact us to install your own solar system.

Intersolar Europe

The plenary hall was packed for day one of Intersolar Europe

SOLA Future Energy helps to green Century City Conference Centre

This week, SOLA Future Energy was pleased to assist the Century City Conference Centre in its journey toward sustainability by completing a solar energy system on the centre’s roof. The complete system consists of over 800 photovoltaic panels that will generate electricity directly from the sun for the conference centre.  The newly-built facility, owned by Rabie Property Group, currently uses over 2M kWh electricity annually.

SOLA Future Energy installed the 260 kW system over 6 weeks. Split over two roofs, the combined system will produce around 400 000 kWh of electricity annually, which is expected to cut the centre’s carbon emissions by 17% per annum.

Gary Koetser, joint CEO of CCCC, comments, “Sustainability is fast becoming a non-negotiable in the private sector, with corporates across the board making a concerted effort to reduce negative effects on the environment. From the outset, we have strived tominimalize the impact of our operationson the environment and have implemented a number of policies and procedures to this end. This includes water management, waste management & recycling, sustainable food and energy saving.

“Examples like CCCC show that small-scale, decentralised energy usage is an important, simple step that companies can take toward securing their own affordable energy supply in the future,” said Dom Wills, CEO of SOLA Future Energy. Will’s voice joined others in a session discussing the cost-effectiveness of renewable technologies at African Utility Week.

Glyn Taylor, joint CEO of CCCC reiterates the centre’s position on sustainable practices, “We are really proud that our system not only makes financial sense, but further exemplifies our commitment to providing a sustainable conference venue by actively cutting down on our own carbon emissions.”

Projects such as this demonstrate a simple step that large buildings can take toward securing their own energy supply in the future whilst cutting their own carbon emissions.

SOLA Future Energy installs 550 kW solar system in Gardens

SOLA Future Energy recently completed a rooftop solar PV installation for Wembley Square,an office complex and lifestyle centre in Gardens, Cape Town. The centre, owned by Redefine Commercial property group is home to several offices, residential apartments, shops and restaurants, and currently uses around 7M kWh electricity per annum.

The rooftop solar system, designed and constructed by SOLA, was completed over 6 weeks, and is expected to supply 550 kW direct current (DC) to the building. The system is expected to produce over 850 000 kWh energy per annum for over 20 years, resulting in a 12% reduction of the building’s carbon footprint per annum. In addition, the solar system will save around R970 000 per annum in electricity costs.

780 kW solar system at Soneike Mall, Kuils River

SOLA future energy recently completed a 780 kW solar rooftop installation atSoneike Mall,in Kuils River. The shopping centre, which contains a range of retail shops, is owned by IPIC Properties.

The property currently uses around 5,4m kWh of electricity per annum. With the new solar system, it is expected that roughly 1,2m kWh will be generated through the sun’s power, saving the complex over R1,7m per year in energy costs and reducing their carbon footprint by 22% per annum.

The project at Soneike is one of several retail clients that SOLA has installed with rooftop solar over the past year. Property owners are opting in for solar systems based on their efficiency and the energy cost savings that they promise. All of SOLA’s installed systems are guaranteed for 20 years, and generally take 4 – 6 years to pay off. For Soneike, this means that they’ll have 14 years of free electricity and enjoy the benefits of a reduced carbon footprint and reduced
tariff costs.

Parkwood Primary School goes solar!

As part of a community development program, SOLA Future Energy (SFE) and Aurora Power Solutions (APS) are bringing solar energy to the Parkwood Tech Centre at Parkwood Primary School. The project is part of Bottomup Nonprofit, an organisation with an award-winning computer-based maths program that doubled the pass rate of learners after just one year.  Together with Stanford University engineering graduates, the organisation has built and furnished a state-of-the-art technology centre.  SOLA Future and Aurora have joined the team to donate time, expertise and equipment for the design and installation of a 12kWp PV system that will supply most of the school’s electricity demand. Major equipment donations have come from SunPower and SMA.

SA leading the way on renewable energy

One has to wonder what motivation the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation has in launching a smear campaign against renewable energy. Mr Kelvin Kemm’s article Nuclear power is the only sensible way to go, which is more about renewable energy than nuclear energy, is riddled with so many untruths and fallacies that it cannot go unchallenged.  Read more