The Cap40 organised its first factory visit at SolaireDirect Technologies.
Sébastien Feit, Managing Director of SolaireDirect Technologies, introduced his best-in-class company, the challenges and opportunities it faces in South Africa and worldwide, and the integrated value-chain in which SolaireDirect operates.
SolaireDirect is indeed a vertically integrated company, operating at all steps of photo-voltaic project development from project design and legal engineering to manufacturing, maintenance and sale of power to utilities.
For the first time since its creation, the Cap40 offered its members the opportunity to visit a manufacturing plant. SolaireDirect's staff showcased Bellville's factory, including the machines, manufacturing process, quality tests and human-resource challenges such as absenteeism, health, security and skills.
The visit of the factory enabled the Cap40 members to understand the manufacturing process whereby imported cells are turned into ready-tu-use solar panels.
The main challenges emphasised by Sebastien Feit are:
- The uncertainties related to the volatility of the Rand value. SolaireDirect Technologies indeed exports 90% of its production to Europe and his therefore highly exposed to exchange rate fluctuations.
- The unfair competition from Chinese competitors benefitting from export subsidies and selling below market price. Unlike European countries, South Africa does not levy import duties on Chinese products exported below market price and is therefore a victim of dumping. SolaireDirect is working closely with the DTI and the South African government to solve this issue and foster the development of a local solar-panel value-chain industry.
- The rules of local content can easily be by-passed. As a result, imported products can end-up being considered as having a higher local content than products manufactured domestically.
However, the South African market offers significant opportunities for SolaireDirect:
- Southern Africa offers one of the best solar potential in the world. The South African market offered great opportunities for large solar parks and small domestic installations.
- While the cost of electricity is constantly rising (8% per year in South Africa), the cost of solar modules has dropped, therefore giving incentives for the consumers to invest in solar modules. SolaireDirect is committed to prividing competitive solar energy at market price.
Access Sebastien Feit's presentation of SolaireDirect