Category Archives: General media articles about power

COUNTRY IN THE SPOTLIGHT: KENYA

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Kenyan agent for Sungrid Group excited by potential of superior product range

Part of its vision to “Light up Africa”, has seen Sungrid Group successfully extend its reach into the African marketplace. In line with this, it has recently partnered with Gallant Technologies Limited and Dawn Projects Limited. Serving as the marketing arm, Dawn will be supported by its sister company, Gallant, whose strong engineering capability will provide enormous value as it begins to expand into industrial solar power.

Founded and owned by Mike Koech, who serves as CEO (Gallant) and Operations Director (Dawn), collectively its mandate will be to take Sungrid Group’s extensive range of portable (solar) power and lighting products into the Kenyan market, followed by East Africa.

“We first came across both Sungrid Group and its high quality range of portable (solar) power solutions about three years ago,” says Koech. Living in Cape Town at the time, with plans to relocate to Kenya, Koech was excited at the potential for these products within the Kenyan marketplace.

Serving as the main point of contact and agent with an exclusive distribution agreement within Kenya, with further discussions underfoot to eventually expand into the greater East African market, Koech is passionate about the enormous impact portable solar power is capable of having.

“About 60% of rural Kenya is without access to electricity,” he continues. “Sungrid Group’s product range is the perfect solution across not only underdeveloped areas, but also within disadvantaged urban communities as well.”

In particular, Koech references the Ecoboxx Barber Kit. Complete with clippers, it provides consumers not only with power and light, but most importantly with an income generating opportunity. “Kenya is a very entrepreneurial market and we are confident that this will prove to be an excellent fit.” In addition Koech and his team will also be marketing Sungrid Group’s lower entry products such as the Solsave my-powa, my-lite and my-lamp across Kenya’s lower income groups. “Our people need access to alternative, viable and cost-effective energy solutions,” stresses Koech. “The beauty of Sungrid Group’s extensive range, is that there is a suitable option available for everyone – not only with regards to specific requirements, but as importantly with regards to affordability.”

In addition, the humanitarian market will be another strong focus area, for which Koech believes the Ecoboxx 600 will be of great benefit. “Sungrid Group is already enjoying much success within the NGO and CSI sectors,” continues Koech. “We are proud to be part of this outreach within Kenya and eventually, East Africa.”

Whilst the demand for portable (solar) power and lighting products, within Kenya, can’t be disputed, Koech also references increasing competition. “We are expecting it to be a tough market, filled with cheaper alternatives. However, the superior quality that Sungrid Group offers across their entire product range will be what sets us apart. Whilst price is important, superior quality is non-negotiable.”IMG_2946

Demand for portable solar across building and residential market

“The way power, and portable (solar) power in particular, is consumed has changed,” says Paul Hubers, founder and director, Sungrid Group.

Demand for portable solar across building and residential market

“We are seeing an increase in demand, particularly across the building and residential estate market where the use of diesel generators is either not allowed or simply no longer the preferred option due to environmental concerns.”

Whilst the use of diesel generators as an alternative supply was a common occurrence, this is no longer the case. In fact, many estates and office parks as well as camping and recreational sites no longer allow the use of diesel generators onsite. “Generators are both noisy and harmful to the environment,” says Hubers.

It is also not as simple as ‘plug-and-play’. When making use of your generator during power outages, in order to ensure no harm occurs when Eskom reconnects the power one requires what is known as a bypass switch. “This needs to be installed by a qualified electrician, adding yet more costs to the average household.” Alternatively, the household items running off the generator can be ‘islanded’ (disconnected from the mainboard) via an extension cord. Whilst this would negate the need for a qualified electrician, the downside is that only smaller appliances are able to be connected, with no access to power for any heavier requirements.

Previously, solar power was the domain of costly and cumbersome installations, placing it out of range of many who could benefit. However, with recent and ongoing technical developments, the ability to harness the sun’s energy and make it easily available for all to use, via simple plug-and-play products, is shaping the way in which consumers are approaching the use of solar as an alternative and viable option.

“What’s also interesting to note,” continues Hubers, “is the change in market demand for the type of portable (solar) products. Developers, manufacturers and distributors of portable (solar) products, Sungrid Group has continued to expand its product range based on consumer demand. “Initially we offered products for light to medium power requirements. However, the last few months has seen a considerable expansion of Sungrid Group’s offering to include products capable of meeting both heavier and dual charging power requirements (the ability to charge the product both on- and off-grid.)

The recently launched Ecoboxx 1500 (EcoTank), capable of up to 350 hours of power, is a case in point. “In addition to providing enough power to support a small to medium sized business during times of load shedding or other interrupted power supply, we are seeing increasing demand for the EcoTank from residential and private homes, particularly in housing estates as an alternative to diesel generators,” continues Hubers. “Its many other benefits and uses include outdoor recreational and camping activities requiring heavier power, small guest houses, the local building industry and small business, to name but a few.”

The EcoTank is true ‘plug-and-play’ with no installation required. “Place the unit in the sun, or charge via the more conventional grid method, and your home becomes immune to load-shedding schedules,” continues Hubers. “The market response to this has been very encouraging, with many builders and architects now including items such as these as part of their overall offering to new home owners.”

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INCREASE IN DEMAND FOR PORTABLE (SOLAR) POWER ACROSS SOUTH AFRICA’S BUILDING AND RESIDENTIAL MARKET

“The way power, and portable (solar) power in particular, is consumed has changed,” says Paul Hubers, founder and director, Sungrid Group. “We are seeing an increase in demand, particularly across the building and residential estate market, where the use of diesel generators is either not allowed or simply no longer the preferred option due to environmental concerns.”

Whilst the use of diesel generators as an alternative supply was a common occurrence, this is no longer the case. In fact, many estates and office parks as well as camping and recreational sites no longer allow the use of diesel generators onsite. “Generators are both noisy and harmful to the environment,” says Hubers.

It is also not as simple as ‘plug-and-play’. When making use of your generator during power outages, in order to ensure no harm occurs when Eskom reconnects the power, one requires what is known as a bypass switch. “This needs to be installed by a qualified electrician, adding yet more costs to the average household.” Alternatively, the household items running off the generator can be ‘islanded’ (disconnected from the mainboard) via an extension cord. Whilst this would negate the need for a qualified electrician, the downside is that only smaller appliances are able to be connected, with no access to power for any heavier requirements.
Previously, solar power was the domain of costly and cumbersome installations, placing it out of range of many who could benefit. However, with recent and ongoing technical developments, the ability to harness the sun’s energy and make it easily available for all to use, via simple plug-and-play products, is shaping the way in which consumers are approaching the use of solar as an alternative and viable option.

“What’s also interesting to note,” continues Hubers, “is the change in market demand for the type of portable (solar) products. Developers, manufacturers and distributors of portable (solar) products, Sungrid Group has continued to expand its product range based on consumer demand. “Initially we offered products for light to medium power requirements. However, the last few months has seen a considerable expansion of Sungrid Group’s offering to include products capable of meeting both heavier and dual charging power requirements (the ability to charge the product both on- and off-grid).

The recently launched Ecobxx 1500 (EcoTank), capable of up to 350 hours of power, is a case in point. “In addition to providing enough power to support a small to medium sized business during times of load shedding or other interrupted power supply, we are seeing increasing demand for the EcoTank from residential and private homes, particularly in housing estates as an alternative to diesel generators,” continues Hubers.

The EcoTank is true ‘plug-and-play’ with no installation required. “Place the unit in the sun, or charge via the more conventional grid method, and your home becomes immune to load-shedding schedules,” continues Hubers. “The market response to this has been very encouraging, with many builders and architects now including items such as these as part of their overall offering to new home owners.”

DEMAND FOR ALTERNATIVE POWER AND LIGHTING SOLUTIONS ON THE INCREASE

“The need for alternative power and lighting solutions has never been as dire,” says Paul Hubers, founder and director, Sungrid Group. With South Africa in the midst of a vicious winter and the resulting increase in power requirements, Eskom’s continued inability to meet these needs has seen substantial increases in load shedding occurrences around the country. The effect on businesses and homes has been far reaching, lost revenue and domestic inconvenience to name but a few.

“We have seen a huge increase in the need for solutions capable of meeting heavier power requirements,” continues Hubers. However he goes on to add that today’s consumer is wanting easy plug-and-play options. “Gone are the days of heavy and cumbersome installations,” he says. “Consumers, across both business and domestic use, are looking for ease of use but as importantly, an alternative solution with both on- and off-grid capability.” What this in effect means is the ability to charge one’s alternative power and lighting device through the use of the sun’s energy (solar), but similarly also via the grid when the power is on. “Consumers are then able to simply switch on their solution once load shedding kicks in, enabling them to continue either business or domestic activities uninterrupted.”
In response to this market demand, Sungrid Group has launched the Ecoboxx 600. Suitable for heavier power requirements, the Ecoboxx 600 is proving itself as a more than viable alternative to today’s energy crisis.
“Our customers range from small businesses, such as restaurants and corner shops right through to residential homes,” continues Hubers. “In every instance, our range of portable (solar) products is enabling them to continue their activities uninterrupted.” Not only is this eliminating the sheer inconvenience brought on by load shedding, but in the case of business it is having a positive effect on the bottom line.

 

“The world is also becoming increasing environmentally conscious,” adds Hubers. Whereas before, diesel generators may have proven a likely option, today’s consumers lean strongly towards more sustainable and green products. “In fact, many estates and office parks as well as camping and recreational sites no longer allow the use of diesel generators onsite,” continues Hubers.
Complete with 600W portable solar power 12V and 220V, the Ecoboxx 600 is providing a viable, cost-effective and environmentally conscious solution for both office and home. Business use includes the powering of LED lights, tablets, laptops, routers and PABX systems; amongst other whilst affording the domestic and recreational market with the ability to power smartphones, TVs and decoders, DVD players, gaming consoles, fans and even sewing machines. “And for those who require a little less power, we will be launching the Ecoboxx 300 towards October this year,” concludes Hubers.

NO END TO ELECTRICITY HIKES

In addition to the 8% increase in electricity tariffs by Eskom over the last two years, a further increase of 12.69% was recently announced for 2015.  This increase will come into effect on 1 April 2015 for Eskom’s direct customers, with municipal customers to follow from 1 July.

“This is placing enormous pressure on already cash strapped consumers and businesses around the country,” says Ryan Steytler, Director, The Sungrid Group. It is becoming increasingly urgent that alternative solutions to the pressing energy crisis be explored.

“The use of portable solar power is an obvious answer,” says Steytler. It brings with it the ability to harness the sun’s energy, but most importantly the capability of making it easily accessible to all.
By converting sunlight into readily accessible portable solar power products, such as Ecoboxx and WakaWaka, cost-effective, safe, reliable and environmentally friendly solar electricity solutions are being made available to the local consumer. “This brings with it not only a safeguard from load shedding and power cuts, but relief to the consumer in the face of never-ending electricity price hikes,” concludes Steytler.

IN THE NEWS …

Early November once again saw South Africa at the mercy of Eskom load shedding and an interrupted power supply. Predicted at the time to be the worst load shedding since 2008, with the impact on South African business and lifestyle becoming increasingly dire, members of the media turned to our very own energy expert, Ryan Steytler, for his views and comments on what can and should be done.

We were proud to have Ryan represent The Sungrid Group across both local community radio as well as the SABC’s national network.

To listen to one of Ryan’s interviews first-hand, we invite you to click on the link below:

CliffCentral, Candid Business Show
Monday, 3 November 2014

with Ellis Mnyandu (editor, Business Report) and Ryan Steytler
http://cliffcentral.com/candid-business-podcast/