Loadshedding has become a way of life in South Africa, and it has a greater financial impact on small businesses than on large corporations. The country has been experiencing power outages for more than ten years, and it appears that this trend will continue. Small businesses are particularly affected because they rely primarily on electricity to conduct daily operations and cannot afford to invest in alternative energy sources due to the high cost of doing so. As the stage levels rise, the electricity can be out for up to 8 hours every day, which means that for half of the day, the business is completely shut down.
Nearly 6 million small businesses are reported to be functioning in South Africa, of which 3.3 million are survalist businesses, 1.7 million are micro companies, and 554 000 are micro businesses. This modest firm aims to close the employment gap between the large unemployed population in South Africa.
South African unemployed rate
According to the latest Stats SA unemployment figures, the unemployment rate in South Africa was 33.9% in the second quarter of 2022, down from 34.5% in the first and a record-high 35.3% in the fourth quarter of 2021. The number of employed people climbed by 648 thousand to 15.562 million, while the labor force increased by 780 thousand to 23.556 million. The number of jobless people increased by 132 thousand to 7.994 million. Community and social services (+276,000), trade (+1696,000), banking (+118,000), and construction (+1046,000) were the sectors that saw the most job growth. However, despite disruptions brought on by rolling blackouts and heavy flooding in KwaZulu-Natal, manufacturing (-73 thousand) and transportation (-54 thousand) also recorded declines.
Including those who have given up seeking for work, the enlarged definition of unemployment fell from 45.5% in the first quarter to 44.1%. In the second quarter of 2022, the youth unemployment rate which counts job searchers between the ages of 15 and 24 dropped to 61.4%, the lowest level in two years.
How do small businesses suffer a loss during load shedding than big cooperate?
Most small businesses depend on the revenue they generate during normal business hours to pay the employees they have hired, so when the electricity goes out, they won’t be able to generate revenue to pay their employees, which would either leave people without jobs or force the business to close.
On the other hand, larger businesses may always increase production to make up for the time lost from working two shifts and fund the installation of renewable energy sources to keep production continuing through load shedding, which benefits the cooperative’s cash flow and prevents any forced closures.
Small Business owners share their own experience with loadsheding
We miss deadlines, and when we miss deadlines, we get paid late, according to Stachia Conradie, owner of a small brand consulting firm. Unsaved work had to be redone, which decreased productivity.
The owner of a small animal clinic in Pretoria-East, Dr. JD, discussed how the power outages have impacted both her income and the kind of care she can offer: ” We must use a generator because of the power outages. A few surgeries simply cannot wait. Animals that are already ill experience trauma from the odors and noise coming from it. That doesn’t even account for the number of medications and vaccines that have been destroyed because they require a constant temperature to remain effective”.
In a modest Johannesburg suburb, Mark has just recently succeeded in realizing a longstanding desire by opening a small gym: “I have had so many unhappy clients. those who struggle to study in uncooled classrooms. Others are angry because only half of the gym’s power-dependent equipment is functional.”
Solutions to end Load Shedding for small business
Solar energy is a viable alternative power source for small business owners seeking long-term solutions to maintain their enterprises through South Africa’s uncertain future. Solar energy is now more viable than ever because of significant decreases in installation and management costs brought about by advances in technology over time.
Uninterruptible power supply systems (UPS systems)
In the event that the primary power source or utility power fails, a UPS is an electrical device that supplies backup power to a load. When it comes to business operational management, a UPS is an absolute minimum since it enables the safe, orderly shutdown of computers and linked equipment. How long a UPS can supply power depends on its size and design.
Power banks must be completely charged and available when needed for a UPS to function. Unfortunately, these are only temporary fixes because the power batteries can deplete before the energy is restored. This implies that, after UPS’s reserve is exhausted, there is no other source of power, which could have a severe effect on productivity and the day-to-day operations of the company.
Grid-tied PV Solar system
A solar PV system is made up of solar panels, an inverter, and other mechanical and electrical components that harness solar energy to produce electricity. PV systems come in a wide range of sizes, from compact rooftops or portable units to enormous utility-scale power plants. Solar PV is typically the least expensive form of energy to produce in South Africa due to its excellent irradiation.
Off-grid solar PV system
A solar PV microgrid often referred to as a stand-alone power system (SAPS), or an off-grid solar PV plus battery system, functions by balancing multiple power sources, including solar PV and batteries. Solar PV microgrids operate by producing electricity from solar panels and using it to power a charger controller that charges a battery.
A microgrid, like the one in Clanwilliam’s Cedar mill Mall, is an example of an off-grid system. An off-grid system is a power generation source that operates independently of a utility grid and is perfect for remote or rural places. But with more frequent load shedding, this method of producing electricity is now beginning to make financial sense in cities.
Even though many businesses might be hesitant to go off-grid, solar PV microgrids are quickly emerging as South Africa’s most durable and affordable permanent power supply option.
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