Shell’s Daystar eyes South Africa for solar power expansion

Shell-owned Daystar Power is pushing into the South African market, where the solar provider expects rapid growth due to record power cuts.

Africa’s most developed market has seen a surge in alternative power systems as state-owned utility Eskom fails to meet demand. Daystar is opening offices in the commercial capital of Johannesburg less than a year after Shell bought the business.

“There is such a dire need in South Africa with load-shedding and the impact it is having on the economy,” Wendy Green, Daystar’s new South Africa head, said in an interview, using the local term for the outages. “Our main strategy is to grow organically, but we are not closed to acquisition opportunities in order to grow faster.”

Daystar is the first power firm to be acquired by Shell on the continent and was originally focused on West Africa. Growth plans include opening an office in Tanzania, said Green, who previously worked on energy projects for South African miner Exxaro Resources and chemical and fuel maker Sasol.

South Africa could potentially become Daystar’s biggest market as it plans to build up to 120 megawatts of solar power out of a continent-wide target of 400 megawatts by 2025, according to Green.

The company installs solar power systems that can be combined with batteries and generators.

Daystar systems usually range up to 15 megawatts, and additional power could be sold on to municipalities or energy traders, Green said.

The company is seeking large-scale, bankable commercial and industrial users as clients, said Green. “About 75% of the power consumed on the continent is actually done in the commercial and industrial sector,” she said.


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