Commercial solar saving insurance debuts in South Africa

Image Credit: The Hydro Spa, in Stellenbosch

Solar panels are always installed on the rooftops and open spaces for maximum exposure to sun and to increase energy generation or efficiency of the panels. However, this comes with its own risks due to the exposure of: rain, high humidity, extreme winds and temperatures.

Most of those risks, such as those relating to normal temperatures changes and wind are considered when designing solar equipment as well as during installation. However, in some cases, the adverse weather conditions go beyond what is projected or expected and thus lead to system failures or even destruction. For instance, extreme whether might affect durability and even force frequent repairs and maintenance, or cause some temporary downtime. Some are technical and others natural in nature such as lightening. While those inconveniences resulting from temporal or permanent failures can be understandable for homes, it may not be acceptable for the case of businesses and commercial industrial solar applications that are sensitive. For instance, there might be sensitive solar applications that might require full time power generation with minimal interruptions.

Solar saving insurance

Is an example of innovations related to solar, which can help even as solar is headed to mainstream or near mainstream. It won't prevent occurrence of disasters just as is with any other insurance coverage, but can protect the businesses from incurring related loses and help them resume immediately in case there is extensive damage. It can boost confidence among investors and companies venturing into commercial solar. Solar saving insurance can protect businesses against various issues that affect solar power generation.

For home-based solar, the rooftop solar panels will certainly be considered part of the home under most home insurance plans.Therefore, rarely will a home owner either need a special add-on in that case or to change the plan. But that depends on the insurance plan. If an add-on plan would be needful, then a special solar insurance would work. For commercial solar application, however, one would need a customized plan.

Commercial solar insurance products that are specially designed for solar markets are not common in Africa but a first in this case is a commercial solar savings insurance product launched last month in South Africa. It is a brain child of South Africa’s All Power Systems and Synthesis Power in collaboration with Fusion Energy, a clean energy concern based in Stellenbosch.

The innovation aims at providing insurance to solar plants against any loss of earnings. Such loss of earnings can occur due to factors and issues that hamper photovoltaic effectiveness.

As such these losses, if uninsured, might discourage companies from venturing into solar related business or even to get out of the business completely when catastrophe strikes.

"Our target market includes any property or land owner who is interested in solar power (as an investor or net-user through our financed offering) whose solar solution requirement is within the 85 Kilowatt to 1 MegaWatt range. This includes commercial (shopping centers) and industrial buildings, office parks, large-scale housing developments, agricultural/farming facilities, to name a few," said Jay Naidoo, chief executive officer at Synthesis Power.

Companies taking the insurance cover after buying solar products from All Power Systems will get refunds if the forecasted savings (provided with the sold solar product) are not achieved. Hence, the solar insurance product provides guarantee for forecasted solar energy savings.

All Power Systems and Synthesis

A 145 Kw Solar Rooftop Project at The Hydro Spa, in Stellenbosch is the first pilot project with this solar insurance project. Many other players in the market welcome it as a good innovation. 

“As investors in Solar Rooftop Technology, the development and inclusion of an All-Risk Solar Insurance product such as this has assisted us by de-risking our investment quite considerably," said marketing director Richard Bennet. "Not only do we reap the great returns which solar power offers, we also have the assurance that the forecasted solar energy savings are guaranteed.”

"By investing in solar energy, our clients are producing their own clean energy from their rooftops vs buying energy from the grid at a high price," said Naidoo. "We are also insuring those savings which means our solar power is now bankable and guaranteed savings which could be seen a ‘guaranteed income' from a property owners perspective."

Conclusion

Solar insurance products are timely; they can boost confidence among companies to continue using solar power by guaranteeing forecasted solar energy savings. By insuring companies against losses related to use of solar energy, they could, together with other solar products -- both commercial and home-based -- to boost the case of solar energy in developing worlds.