Paarl-based wine cellars Boland Cellar and peer-to-peer solar leasing platform Sun Exchange received crowd funding from 1 204 individuals from 85 countries to finance a 473 kW solar project to provide clean electricity for the wine cellar, while also reducing its electricity costs and emissions.
The crowdsourced and global approach to solar finance was enabled through Sun Exchange’s innovative online platform.
The solar installation at Boland Cellars is now live and generating renewable electricity.
Sun Exchange enables individuals around the world to buy, own and earn income from solar cells installed on the roofs of businesses, farm buildings, schools and other organisations in emerging markets. Solar cell owners earn income from the electricity that is generated, while the businesses and organisations benefit from lower electricity costs and carbon emission abatement benefits.
Through Sun Exchange, Boland Cellar transitioned 25% of its energy needs to solar, with no upfront capital or ongoing operational costs for 20 years, paying only for electricity consumed.
In addition, the cellar will immediately start to save on its electricity bill, with projected lifetime savings of 34% on the section of the cellar that is now solar-powered.
Boland Cellar CEO Heini Smit says the cellar’s ethos of collaboration is at the heart of its decision to go solar during this extremely challenging time in the wine industry. “We work hand-in-hand with nature, grape growers, winemakers and others to produce outstanding wines for the world. Now included in our collaborative ecosystem is Sun Exchange and the 1 204 individuals from around the globe who enabled us to operate more efficiently, produce wines more sustainably and safeguard jobs.”
Cellar master Bernard Smuts adds that South Africa’s abundant sunshine helps the cellar produce wines that are exported around the globe. “I am delighted and humbled that so many global citizens united to provide us with solar power, also sourced from our country’s solar abundance.”
Sun Exchange CEO and founder Abe Cambridge says the Covid-19 pandemic has had devastating impacts on the South African wine industry and that wine farms are eager to reduce their production costs. He adds that Sun Exchange offers a sustainable and affordable solution for Boland Cellar to transition to solar, without any upfront capital outlay.
“We have previously facilitated solar power for 33 similar projects across South Africa, through a global community that is committed to actively promoting a sustainable global economic recovery.”
The system will operate for 20 years and will be fully maintained and insured by Sun Exchange for that period. Boland Cellar will pay a pre-agreed rate per kilowatt-hour for the electricity used. Net of cost, this fee is paid to solar cell owners as rental income for their solar cells.