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Cars.co.za Buys Into The Sun Exchange’s Karoo Fresh Off-Grid Solar Project To Boost Sustainability

Sun Exchange, the global solar leasing platform, has announced that leading South African automotive platform, Cars.co.za, has bought into a project that provides off-grid solar-plus-battery storage power to Karoo Fresh. Cars.co.za is South Africa’s leading automotive portal, which lists more than 74,000 vehicles stocked by hundreds of dealers countrywide. According to independent web traffic auditing firm Narratiiv, Cars.co.za is the most visited motoring site in the country (with an audience of nearly 2 million unique South African users per month). Cars.co.za also has a presence on multiple digital platforms and remains one of South Africa’s top-ranked branded YouTube channels (with more than 323,000 subscribers and 108 million views). Cars.co.za has a lot of electric vehicle content on its channel and strives to raise awareness on EVs in South Africa. Here is one of its awesome reviews of the BMW iX.

Sun Exchange has helped over 65 businesses, farms, schools and other organizations in Southern Africa to adopt solar since it was established in 2015. Its solar projects have generated more than 13 GWh of clean energy, avoiding more than 13,000 tonnes of carbon emissions. Individuals and businesses from 180 countries across the world use the Sun Exchange platform to buy and own solar cells, produce clean electricity, and earn with purpose.

Karoo Fresh is a commercial farm in South Africa’s Karoo district. Situated in the harsh climate of the Karoo, the farm places sustainability at the center of its operations. Sustainable farming for them means taking care of the land, the environment, and their staff. The farm now employs 60 people, including seasonal workers whose tasks include soil preparation and harvesting of the vegetables and Saffron.

In going solar, Karoo Fresh hope to set a precedent for medium, independent, non-corporate farmers to seek sustainable alternatives to farm without having to fully rely on centralized electricity. “We believe and apply sustainable farming methods – Now we can apply it without the challenges of unreliable electricity sources in the region.”

The 332.1 kW solar plus 640 kWh storage project, which is now generating electricity, is Sun Exchange’s first fully off-grid project. The project provides continuous, reliable solar power for Karoo Fresh’s irrigation system, enabling the farm to expand its production of brassica and saffron, while simultaneously becoming more sustainable and cutting its reliance on costly and polluting diesel power. The project is expected to replace approximately 90,000 liters of diesel annually, avoiding more than an estimated 240 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year, equivalent to approximately 960,000 kilometers driven in an average passenger vehicle. Sun Exchange is in the planning stages of a second phase of the project, which will eliminate the farm’s reliance on diesel altogether.

“Our belief that business can be a powerful force for good is one of Cars.co.za’s core values and essential to our culture,” said Alastair MacMurray, co-founder, Cars.co.za. “We’re proud to be associated with Sun Exchange and the Karoo Fresh solar project as part of our vision at Cars.co.za to protect our environment and be a carbon negative business. This project gave us the ability to align with a progressive business and effectively achieve our major environmental goals for 2022.”

“The Sun Exchange platform is all about enabling access to the benefits of the clean energy economy. With growing global focus on ESG, this increasingly includes sustainability-minded companies that want opportunities to earn while making a positive impact,” said Abe Cambridge, Chief Executive Officer, Sun Exchange. “Having Cars.co.za buy solar cells to power Karoo Fresh through the Sun Exchange platform, demonstrates the vital role the private sector can play in addressing some of today’s most pressing sustainability challenges.”

“Being located in the Karoo, an area notorious for its harsh climate, Karoo Fresh has a long history of embracing innovation and adaptation to grow our business,” said Eric Brown, Owner, Karoo Fresh. “Having access to continuous, reliable, affordable clean energy is a game-changer that will enable us to sustainably expand the reach and impact of our agriculture business.”

By using the Sun Exchange platform to buy more than 16,000 solar cells, valued at more than ZAR 2.5 million ($140,000), Cars.co.za is leveraging its balance sheet to drive sustainable energy, while creating an alternative income stream for its business over the 20-year lifespan of the solar project. We hope to see more of these types of collaborations and investments. These collaborations present an opportunity to supercharge the growth of the distributed solar industry by providing affordable, clean, renewable electricity where its needed the most.

 

Images courtesy of Sun Exchange

 
 
 
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Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since. At university he continued to explore materials with applications in the energy space and ending up doing a PhD involving the study of radiation damage in High Temperature Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors. He has since transitioned to work in the Solar and Storage industry and his love for batteries has driven him to obsess about electric vehicles.

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