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By Vukosi Maluleke

Digital Journalist

Solar is the next big thing!- Here’s how the sun could alleviate poverty and help you build a career

LookSee's Solar Training Initiative equips SMEs to provide high quality installations and maintenance.

Africa has 60% of the world’s solar radiation potential but only 1% of its installed capacity, making solar system installations one of the most growing industries now and into the future.

In a country plagued by rolling power cuts and youth unemployment, solar contractors can both save the country’s power grid and help put food on the table for their families.

But the speed at which South Africans have rushed to install solar systems at home or their businesses has led to a rise in unqualified contractors trying to make a quick buck.

ALSO READ: I’m planning to go solar, how do I make sure my installer isn’t dodgy?

One mistake during installation can lead to your solar system and home being damaged, and you being unable to invoke the Consumer Protection Act (CPA). 

New jobs on the horizon?

Executive head of Standard Bank’s home efficiency platform LookSee Marc du Plessis told The Citizen there is a need for qualified and trained solar installers.

“In my view, energy as a career is a good space to look at for youngsters and for those looking for a new career path’, because there’s insatiable energy demand worldwide,” he said.

ALSO READ: WATCH – I want to get solar, how do I know if it is worth my while

Standard Bank Head of Enterprise Development Naledzani Mosomane added the focus on alternative energy solutions would likely extend into the future, making it a good long-term career choice.

Training future generations

To help train a generation of solar installers, Standard Bank’s Enterprise Development division has teamed up with LookSee and its implementation partner 4-Sure to establish a solar training initiative. 

The project provides extensive training to select Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) around the country. Participating companies are taken through a comprehensive three-month programme at the Green Solar Academy, facilitated by industry experts, before sitting for their PV Greencard accreditation exams. 

Once they have finished training and passed the necessary exams, the SMEs will be accredited and added to 4-Sure‘s list of reputable solar installers, giving them access to markets. SMEs will not be restricted to getting work through the platform and can do work outside the jobs found through the service.

ALSO READ: Keeping it clean: How to maximize your solar system’s performance

Ongoing support

Many startups struggle with financing and business management support.

Mosomane said Standard Bank would provide ongoing support to boost installers’ chances of success. 

“A key focus for us is to make sure that these businesses become viable and sustainable, create jobs and stay in business

“We don’t just want to upskill people only for them to not have work once they’ve been upskilled,” she said.

ALSO READ: Is getting solar really worth it? Here’s how much you could save

Du Plessis said there’s a growing appetite among foreign investors to finance renewable energy solutions in South Africa, including solar energy. 

“There should be a lot of funding, which should create jobs in the energy sector. There’s a long way to go. There is potential but a lot of work to still be done”.

Global award-winning initiatives

LookSee’s commitment to providing affordable and sustainable energy solutions was recognised at the recent 2023 global Qorus-Accenture Banking Innovation Awards, where it won silver in the Social, Sustainable and Responsible Banking category.

It was the only African institution to make it to the top nine of the awards, which rewards ideas and practices changing the banking industry. LookSee’s financing options, including its solar loans and other loan offerings, were highlighted.

To date, LookSee has helped South Africans install over 6,100 solar panels on their homes. These panels are generating an estimated 6,100 megawatt-hours in power annually and offset approximately 7,700 tons of carbon emissions, equalling to the planting of 80,000 pine trees.

ALSO READ: Standard Bank’s LookSee first to launch Solar Loan

Du Plessis said LookSee’s innovative initiatives are changing the way people see and access solar energy, while also helping secure a brighter future for the next generation.

“In South Africa we are facing several challenges, but our energy crisis stands out for the broad impact on all sectors of society. This is why LookSee, and our parent group Standard Bank, are so focused on enabling the affordable rollout of solar power.

“With our sunny conditions, solar is a perfect choice to reduce the strain on the power grid and help to increase the usage of renewable energy sources.

“And for households, a solar installation doesn’t just offer power security and lower electricity costs, it also provides the opportunity to make changes that will benefit generations to come.”

This article is brought to you by LookSee.

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