Schools make hay as sun shines


School roofs are increasingly becoming the key playing field for those wanting to harness solar energy – with six schools in Nelson Mandela Bay already earning rental income for their roof space and several others under construction.
Considered to be one of the best alternative power sources, rooftop solar and embedded storage systems contribute to a more affordable and reliable energy grid, according to Nesa Investment Holdings – a fund that gives financing for solar projects.
Nesa investments Holdings director and technical director Peter Frolich said the energy generated was sold to thirdparty users.
“Through that sale, from the money we receive, we pay them rent for the roof.
“Schools are generally always looking for additional income.
“So, if we can provide that additional income for them, at relatively low risk, it is a great win for them.
“We have a lot of uptake from that point of view, but are also working with other corporate-type sites.”
OneSolar, a solar energy equipment supplier with a branch in Port Elizabeth, has partnered with Nesa Investment Holdings and is responsible for the installation and viability testing of the school projects.
Nesa director and chief investment officer Percy Ying said the two companies had committed R23.4m to the Baybased solar projects.
These include sites that were either operational, or at various stages of development and construction.
“Nationally, Nesa Investment Holdings has to date raised and committed capital of an additional R94m into commercial and industrial solar photovoltaic (PV) plants [excluding the R23.4m invested in Nelson Mandela Bay].
“We have 20 operational solar PV plants in the country, with a further 15 sites at various stages of development that are expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2019.
“For our smaller sites, our leasing partners are able to earn initially anywhere between R2,000 to R5,000 a month and for larger rooftopowning clients, we have been able to offer R15,000 to R35,000 a month.
“All leases have annual escalation rates which ensures that their income stream is not eroded by inflation,” Ying said.
Any Bay property owner was able to earn roof rental income by letting it to Nesa Investment Holdings to operate a solar PV plant on, he said.
“The range of the income rental is completely dependent on available roof space that dictates the size of the plant and the size of the plant that is approved by the city council.
“This dictates how much energy we are able to sell back into the grid and ultimately how much roof rentals we are able to afford to pay the underlying property owners.”
The schools include:
● Hoërskool Despatch;
● Bergsig Special School;
● Laerskool Frans Conradie;
● Susannah Fourie Primary;
● Uitenhage High School; and
● Despatch Preparatory School.

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