BNC London: Andrew Middleton – SA’s optimistic solar-powered future

GoSolr CEO Andrew Middleton electrified the audience at the BizNews Conference in London with his optimistic keynote on the transformative power of solar energy. Emphasising South Africa’s immense solar potential, Middleton highlighted GoSolr’s innovative subscription model, which has made solar energy accessible to thousands of households. He underscored the significant progress made in reducing load shedding and advocated for continued investment and regulatory reforms to accelerate the transition to renewable energy. With a vision of solar in every home, Middleton’s message was clear: the future of energy is bright and sustainable.

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Summary of Andrew Middleton’s keynote address at the BizNews Conference in London

GoSolr CEO Andrew Middleton electrified the audience at the BizNews Conference in London with his optimistic keynote on the transformative power of solar energy. Emphasising South Africa’s immense solar potential, Middleton highlighted GoSolr’s innovative subscription model, which has made solar energy accessible to thousands of households. He underscored the significant progress made in reducing load shedding and advocated for continued investment and regulatory reforms to accelerate the transition to renewable energy. With a vision of solar in every home, Middleton’s message was clear: the future of energy is bright and sustainable.

Andrew Middleton’s PowerPoint Presentation

Edited transcript of Andrew Middleton’s keynote address at the BizNews Conference in London 

00:01
Thanks, Alec. Actually, it’s Andrew. No worries. It’s great to be here and see some familiar faces. I’ll take the bright screen out of your eyes, but I’ll leave “brighter futures” up, as Paul mentioned. I want to share a positive story.

00:35
Hi everyone, Andrew here. As Alec pointed out, I’m the co-founder and CEO of GoSolr, the largest residential-focused solar player. There are many great solar companies globally, and it’s an exciting movement. This morning’s conversations have been optimistic, which I appreciate as an optimist.

01:05
Our vision is “solar in every home,” which we’ll achieve with many partners. This is a short, positive story about an industry that’s booming, turning crises into opportunities. There are huge opportunities in South Africa, and I hope you’re voting this weekend to support positive change. I’ve heard promising political and energy sector shifts today. I agree with James on the need for a mix of energies, and I’ll share the solar story.

02:03
Why solar in South Africa? We have abundant sun, potentially top three in the world. Despite our rich natural resources, we need to responsibly harness solar and wind energy. It’s surprising that the UK has more home solar adoption than South Africa, given their lack of sunshine. We need to focus on solar.

02:32
Our energy crisis is well-known, with power becoming more expensive and causing health issues due to coal burning. We need a balanced energy mix. Renewable energy, including wind and solar, will soon be the largest global electricity source. Technological advances make solar affordable and reliable, especially with battery storage.

04:24
Solar has grown significantly. When GoSolr started, solar adoption was minimal. We aimed to address three main issues: cost, complexity, and reliability. Solar was a luxury product, unaffordable for most households. We simplified it by launching the first solar subscription model for residential areas, making us the largest player in South Africa.

06:53
In two years, we’ve built a 75 MW solar farm on thousands of roofs, investing 1.5 billion rand into the economy. This demonstrates that finding solutions to complex problems can attract capital. The industry built 2.6 GW of solar capacity last year, reducing load shedding by two to three stages.

08:17
Solar isn’t just a backup; it’s about saving money and addressing the global climate crisis. South Africa needs to transition to a sustainable energy mix to remain connected to the global economy. We’re planning a 10 billion rand investment, have created 600+ jobs, and significantly reduced load shedding.

10:11
The industry has immense potential. South Africa’s solar penetration is only 0.7%, compared to the UK’s 3% and Australia’s 30%. The challenge is to make solar accessible to all households, not just the affluent.

12:08
Solar will continue to grow, aligning with international trends. South Africa’s economy has significant opportunities despite its challenges. We need regulatory reform to support this new industry, as energy laws are outdated. Energy policy will be critical in the upcoming elections.

13:30
Every political party is addressing energy reform in their manifestos. It’s crucial for the future of our industry. I hope this story of hope inspires you to see problems differently and contribute to positive change.

*The above transcript has been condensed and paraphrased for brevity and clarity, and may not capture the full context or nuances of the original speech delivered by Andrew Middleton at the BizNews London Conference

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