A Continent in Need of Energy


A Continent in Need of Energy

The truth could not be more inconvenient: only 24% of Sub-Saharan Africans have daily access to electricity. The world’s second-largest continent's combined energy generation capacity equals that of Argentina alone (28 Gigawatts). African demand will only rise directly to the continent’s growing population, urbanization, and economic productivity. Even those fortunate enough to have electricity may experience an average of 54 power outages per year, which means they are likely to experience darkness for 15% of the year.

The African commercial sector is forced to rely on generators to make up for the energy supply gap. However, generator power is prohibitively expensive, costing four times the price of grid power on average. Companies in Africa have much higher operational costs than their counterparts elsewhere – this is true not only for those in power-intensive industries, but also for general businesses such as banks and supermarkets. Energy is a disproportionately large expense for African organisations.

The irony of Africa’s energy poverty is that the continent is very rich in energy resources, but most of its energy potential is untapped. According to McKinsey research, Africa’s potential energy generation capacity is up to 1.2 terawatts without solar and more than ten terawatts with solar. Solar, which is abundant in Africa, can generate nearly ten terawatts of new energy. In the coming years, renewable energy will play an integral role in Africa’s energy mix. It is estimated that by 2040, more than 25% of Africa’s total energy will come from clean sources such as geothermal, hydro, solar and wind. This represents a more than fourfold increase from only 5% in 2013.

Solar Hybrid Technology

Over the years, the cost of electricity has increased by more than five times in South Africa. The new Defy Solar Hybrid range uses electricity from the grid and solar energy to reduce electricity consumption and save money.

The product range is designed with Africa in mind and is a game-changer as it helps to lower energy costs by up to 44% and keep food frozen for up to 40 hours with endura-chill technology when there is no power.

With built-in smart electronics installed in these new appliances, revolutionary technology reduces the total cost of ownership by eliminating the need for separate battery and inverter purchases to have a solar appliance at home. These characteristics make solar hybrid products a reliable partner for everyday life in our homes, lowering rising electricity costs while keeping food fresh during load shedding.

Making Use of the Most Reliable Power Supply: Sunshine

Africans face two significant challenges daily. The first is the lack of access to a reliable and affordable source of power.  The second is food spoilage that is caused by the lack of proper storage and a consistent and reliable power supply. Defy decided to do something about it and created the Solar Hybrid range, which uses Africa’s most abundant resource – sunlight.

South Africa has one of the highest local resources to produce solar energy in the world. Most areas in the country have an average of more than 2,500 hours of sunshine per year. The annual 24-hour global solar radiation average is about 220 W/m2 for South Africa, compared to about 150 W/m2 for parts of the USA and roughly 100 W/m2 for Europe and the United Kingdom.

Despite being a solar-powered fridge and freezer, the Solar Hybrid range operates a little differently from other solar appliances on the market – they run off a dual power source and also plug into the electricity grid. When the sun is out, the Solar Hybrid products run directly off the solar panels, and when it is dark, they revert to the electrical grid.

This results in up to 44% less energy consumption in the fridge, 38% less energy consumption in the freezer than conventional units.

Traditionally, solar refrigerators are high-cost items and require expensive batteries or inverters. However, the Solar Hybrid range provides a built-in intelligent electronics solution that offers innovative technology for a broader market at an affordable price to help save on electricity costs. At the same time, this makes it easier for more people to live a greener life by increasing sustainable solar power usage.

Defy marks the launch of their Solar Hybrid range social innovation, just one step in the long journey towards a more sustainable Africa where technology is more readily available to all consumers.