When Eskom wobbles, demand for Gosolr surges – and SA’s home-solar leader gets a new convert

BizNews founder Alec Hogg put Gosolr to the ultimate test – and says SA’s leading provider of residential renewable energy solutions passed with distinction. In this interview, Gosolr CEO Andrew Middleton, a qualified actuary, explains how the mushrooming company’s business model is built on a discipline of a simply month-by-month commitment from clients – and installations completed within a single day. He also unpacks the direct correlation between demand for Gosolr’s services and Eskom’s load-shedding schedule and explains how the company is engaging with rural municipalities to assist them in overcoming seemingly intractable problems with supplying electricity to their ratepayers. – Alec Hogg

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Excerpts from the interview

Andrew Middleton on Gosolr’s affordability

We are one of the most affordable in the market and we always aim to keep that as affordable as possible. At the moment, the primary reason why people are going with solar and Gosolr is loadshedding backup. And that’s something we need to educate on and change the mindset on because actually, solar is not just a sustainable technology that provides loadshedding backup, it’s also one of the most affordable globally, and it’ll continue to get cheaper as those double digit price increases come through from Eskom. We’ve just seen from the 1st of July, most of the municipalities have increased between 15 and 18% and we are very confident that Gosolr will be the cheapest source of energy in most households, in most cities very soon. So that’s an important part of our longevity as a company. [On] load shedding – we hope we’re going to be part of the solution. We hope load shedding disappears in a few years time and then we want to provide reliable, affordable and clean energy to households. 

Read more: Democratising solar power – Gosolr’s R1740pm solution, no capital upfront

Middleton on load shedding

We never thought we would be a load shedding backup business. That was never the intention. But what we do see is that the demand is very correlated to load shedding at the moment. So, when we see a little bit of an ease in loadshedding, we see less interest in the website. Which is very interesting. I think the two main factors that solar brings is it’s an affordable source of energy [and] it’s a decentralised source of energy. So you’re in control of it and it’s clean and that’s what we need as a planet. I think what our model does as well, is it introduces that [alongside a] no hassle factor, I think that’s the important thing. Your experience, I think you’re testament to that. It was easy. We’re trying to make solar simple. You also need someone to find the system does need maintenance and repairs, and you’ve now got a business that offers you a service as opposed to the old way, which was to buy a product and hope it works.

Read more: Lings: Decoded Eskom data, unleashed private sector brings SA hope for loadshedding’s end

On Gosolr’s month-to-month payment model

Why we are confident with month-to-month is because we believe that our customer service will keep us ahead, and our pricing, as you can see in the market, is some of the most competitive out there. So if we continue to offer the customer service levels that we strive for and make sure that the product works well and has the latest technology, we’re not scared of month-to-month. If we were scared of [that] or our customer service and the product we offer, then yes, we’d probably lock [payments] in for three, five, seven years contracts. But we don’t want to do that. We would rather just give our quality service to our customers.

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