Sun Exchange, South African renewable energy start-up, today announced its expansion into sub-Saharan Africa with the launch of the crowdsale for a multiphase 1.9 megawatt (MW) solar-plus-storage project for Nhimbe Fresh, one of Zimbabwe’s biggest fruit and tobacco producers. This will be the largest Sun Exchange solar installation to date and the first outside South Africa.
The multiphase solar and battery project will power Nhimbe Fresh packhouses, cold store facilities, pump sites, and Churchill Farm.
The introduction of continuous, reliable power, at a lower cost than running diesel generators, is forecast to reduce the Nhimbe Fresh facilities’ energy costs by more than 60% per year and carbon emissions by more than one million kilograms per year.
Working with United Exports, Czon and Global Fresh, Nhimbe Fresh exports blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, stone fruit, snap peas and snow peas to major international grocery retailers in the United Kingdom, European Union, United Arab Emirates and South Africa.
In April 2019, the company floated a $2.9 million convertible five-year bond, which was fully subscribed by leading African asset manager, Old Mutual Investment Group.
Nhimbe Fresh maintains a strong focus on sustainability and uplifting surrounding communities.
“Going solar through Sun Exchange is a significant step towards that vision, minimising our energy costs and climate impact, while strengthening our resilience and business continuity by enabling us to continue operations during power outages,” Edwin Masimba Moyo, Chairman and sole shareholder, Nhimbe Fresh, said.
Nhimbe Fresh runs an outgrower scheme, working with 250 smallholder farmers who receive specialised training and support and gain vast access to export markets. The company also provides clinic and childcare facilities for employees, sports funding and participates in a programme to empower youth in agriculture.
“Agriculture accounts for approximately 23% of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP, yet this critical sector faces immense challenges including unreliable power supply, rising electricity costs, climate-induced drought and limited access to finance for clean energy,” Abraham Cambridge, CEO & Founder, Sun Exchange, said.
“Sun Exchange directly addresses those challenges by facilitating access to extremely simple, affordable, reliable solar power.”
Through its online platform, Sun Exchange sells solar cells to its global community of more than 19,000 Sun Exchange members across 168 countries, and then leases the cells to schools, businesses and other organisations across sub-Saharan Africa.
Solar cell owners offset their carbon footprint while earning a rental income stream from the clean electricity generated. In turn, businesses and organisations can go solar at no upfront cost, minimising their energy costs and climate impact.