Bruce Conne, Technical Manager, Romano Sustainable Solutions


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With the expected Eskom increases over the next five years, retail petroleum service stations are facing reduced profitability and some even closure as profits are continually eroded by rising operating costs. Electricity is one of the costs that can be managed and self generated.

This conference aims to examine best practices in energy efficiency and unpack the options and complexities of generating electricity from renewable energy specifically for retail fuel sites.

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Bruce Conne, Technical Manager, Romano Sustainable Solutions

  1. 1. A Solar PV Journey
  2. 2. ABOUT USWe are a multi-skilled provider of a broad range of sustainable solutions, to clients whoare typically large commercial, industrial or retail property owners and tenants spreadthroughout sub-Saharan Africa.Our value-added offer includes the design, manufacture and installation of high-qualitySignage & Print, Solar PV, LED Lighting and Modular Construction solutions, all of whichare delivered on-time at a competitive price.Our factories, having combined areas totalling approximately 10,000 m2, are situated inCape Town and Johannesburg. We have approved installers representing us in all nineprovinces of South Africa, as well as various implementation partners based at strategiclocations spread across Africa.We are a Level 4 BEE-certified, wholly South African-owned company that employs morethan 150 people.The Romano Group was founded in 1952 by Romanos Romano and has since grown intoone of the largest companies of its kind on the African continent.
  3. 3. SOLAR PVWhether you are:• A client wishing to acquire a commercial-scale photovoltaic (PV) solar energy system,• A developer of a utility-scale solar park,• A consulting firm needing practical assistance, or• A property owner wishing to lease your land or roof-space for the purpose of housing aPV plantWe will make it all happen for you.Our Solar PV division is an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor,specialising in the design, manufacture, assembly, installation and commissioning ofground or roof-mounted PV systems . Our engineering and implementation skills coverboth the DC and AC sides of the system, including grid connection. We also providecomprehensive operations & maintenance (O&M) services to ensure that your PV plantcontinues operating at optimum performance throughout its 25-year or longerlifespan.In partnership with our clients, property owners and financiers, we are also a developer ofutility-scale PV solar energy facilities that produce and sell energy to the electricity grid.
  4. 4. OUR SERVICESOur wide range of services includes: site surveys, site drawings, landlordnegotiations, local authority applications, conceptual & detailed design,prototyping, manufacture, assembly, packaging & crating, logistics includingtransport & warehousing, construction & installation, operations &maintenance, system performance monitoring, and database management.
  5. 5. BLACK ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT (BEE) , EMPLOYMENTEQUITY (EE) AND LOCAL CONTENT (LC)Our BEE status is currently at Level 4, which means that our South African-based clientsreceive 100% procurement recognition towards their own BEE scorecards whenpurchasing from us. Since 1st March 2009, 25.1% of the shares in our company havebeen and are still controlled by our HDSA (historically disadvantaged South African)employees.We have always promoted EE practices. More than 80% of our executive and middlemanagement staff, and nearly 100% of our operating staff, are HDSA employees.The Romano Group is a wholly South African-owned company and therefore all added-value services that we provide contribute 100% of the LC to projects that we undertakein South Africa.Our in-house freelancer and subcontractor development programme, which has beenoperating successfully for two decades, has been a major contributor to our BEE, EE andLC scorecards. Under this programme approximately 50% of our value-adding activitiesare undertaken by a collective of micro enterprises, most of which are owned andoperated by former employees. In most cases we have contributed to thedevelopment of these smaller businesses through financial assistance and training.
  6. 6. How did the Romano PV journey start?• Remote location signage enquiries• Energy reduction enquiries from corporate clients• In-house research, development and recommendations• CEO with a keen interest in alternative energy andenvironmental issues
  7. 7. Romano – A South African PV pioneerMost people will recognise the Upington Solar Park conference on 28thand29thOctober 2010 as being the kick-off point which launched the solar PVindustry in South Africa.It is interesting therefore to note that by the time that milestone in theSouth African PV industry timeline had been reached, the Romano teamhad not only tested their PV knowledge on a number of small projects andcompleted designs for two commercial sized PV projects, but had alreadycommissioned the first commercial PV installation of it’s size in thecountry.Romano has been represented at all of the key industry conferences andshows over the past years and has been actively involved in industryassociations which see industry colleagues and even competitors workingtogether to the collective benefit of the PV industry as a whole.
  8. 8. Some examples of Romano’s PVinstallations
  9. 9. Upcoming and potential futureprojects include Eskom MegawattPark plus a commercial pipeline of30MW.
  10. 10. What are the benefits of the rooftop /developed land PV industry?
  11. 11. 1. Industrial and commercial buildings such as supermarkets, factoriesand warehouses have large amounts of unused roof space. Forecourtcanopies and service station roofs are similarly untapped resources.2. There are typically large saving opportunities for industrial andcommercial businesses during sunlight hours, especially in industrieswhich trade 7 days a week.3. Savings are significant for high energy users (refrigeration, aircon,heating, machinery, compressors, pumps and lighting).4. PV can be configured to operate in conjunction with generators andthereby save fuel costs when there is no utility power.5. Rising cost of electricity supplied by utilities is in many cases in excessof the Eskom 8% and future increases are uncertain. It is possible to fixa portion of one’s future energy bill up front with PV.6. Solar PV is cheaper when measured over the life of the system.
  12. 12. A little known fact about the history ofalternative energy in South Africa is thatthe first ever commercial PV installation inthis country was installed on a servicestation forecourt near Johannesburg.One of the team involved with that projectwas none other than the Deputy DirectorGeneral of the Department of Energy.
  13. 13. Solar PV generators on forecourts has beensuccessfully implemented in Europe over thepast number of years.A rollout program in Italy that has reportedlybeen run since 2010 has included installationson forecourts of many leading companies withsuccessful outcomes.Similar installations have been completed inSpain and England which have led to PV beingincluded in wider energy saving programs.
  14. 14. Ways to acquireWays to acquire a Rooftop / Forecourta Rooftop / ForecourtPV systemPV systemA. Outright purchase using own cash resourcesB. Outright purchase using bank financeC. Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)
  15. 15. A. Outright purchase using own cashA. Outright purchase using own cashresourcesresourcesClient purchases the system using its own cash resources andconsumes the electricity as it is generated by the system
  16. 16. As per Option A, except the Client purchases the systemfrom the Supplier using bank finance.
  17. 17.  Supplier owns and installs the system on the Client’spremises and sells the electricity generated by the systemto the Client over a 20-year period, at more competitiverates than utilities. After 20-years, Supplier cedes the rights of ownership tothe Client for no charge. Client receives at least another 5 years of free solarelectricity.
  18. 18. A. OutrightpurchaseB. Financed C. PPANegative cash flowin first severalyearsPositive cash flowfor most of usefullifePositive cash flowthroughout usefullifeTechnology &financial risk borneby clientTechnology &financial risk borneby clientTechnology &financial risk borneby supplierClient responsiblefor O&M andInsuranceClient responsiblefor O&M andInsuranceSupplierresponsible forO&M andInsurance2ndhighest NPVafter 25 yearsHighest NPV after25 years3rdhighest NPVafter 25 years
  19. 19. 1. Sustainable job creation2. Increase property value by improving its Green Starrating.3. Accelerated Tax Allowances.4. Green marketing.5. Social responsibility.6. Potential sale of Carbon Credits.7. Potential Carbon Tax Savings in future.8. Distributed power generation at the point ofconsumption = no additional grid infrastructure.
  20. 20. Sustainable job creationSustainable job creation1. Small to medium projects in developedareas.2. High number of potential project siteswithin a defined geographical location.3. Potential for small businesses to enterthe market and grow the industry on asmall, localised basis.4. Skills gained will be beneficial as theindustry grows.
  21. 21. 1. Corporate KPI’s2. Lack of awareness of the benefits of Solar PV3. Convincing utilities to allow back-feeding4. Convincing utilities to implement net metering5. Lack of technical standards6. Lack of training
  22. 22. Examples of practical project obstaclesExamples of practical project obstaclesexperienced. . .experienced. . .• Electricity distributors around the country (predominantly localcouncils) each have their own philosophy with regard to gridconnection and feedback.• Grid connection regulations have typically been prioritised withinthe council once a project is already underway, leading to ashifting of goalposts during the project.• This in turn can lead to an unhappy client and could give theindustry as a whole a negative image.• The smaller the PV installation the larger the financial impact ofhaving to provide an anti-feedback system, the cost of which isnot proportional to the size of the PV generator.
  23. 23. The way forward….The way forward….• Work together with other industry players (supply chain as wellas competitors) to build the industry.• Purpose is to create a sustainable rooftop PV industry thatbenefits all South Africans• Promote an ethical, sustainable and environmentally-friendlyindustry• Set standards for the industry• Influence government and municipalities to support theindustry• Educate clients and give them open and honest information.
  24. 24. FeedbackFeedback and questions……..and questions……..