South Africa’s solar energy market is booming, as more companies and residents seek to reduce their electricity costs and improve security of energy supply. Many solar asset owners are facing unique, and potentially catastrophic risks that oftentimes require highly specialised insurance and risk management solutions. RenewAfrica.Biz’s Nigel Lungi (NL) sat down with Firedart Engineering Underwriting Managers’ Marketing Manager for the Western Cape, Andre Alberts (AA), to discuss more around some of their solutions to address these challenges.
NL: Tell us more about Firedart and the solar insurance solutions it offers.
AA: Our offer is a cradle to grave solution. We can provide cover for the construction/installation phase and once operation we can provide cover for the assets assist on an all-risk basis.
NL: With load-shedding intensifying in South Africa, the solar energy market is rapidly expanding as businesses look at alternative power sources aside from grid supply. What are some of the benefits of Firedart’s solar insurance product to solar asset owners?
AA: Included in Firedart’s operational all risk cover, is machinery breakdown and liability cover. Owners are also able to extend the cover to include business interruption cover.
Taking care of the electricity you would need to buy in, if and when the insured solar system can’t deliver as a result of operational claim.
NL: Which solar-subsectors (Commercial, Industrial, Residential, Utility) are Firedart’s solar insurance targeting, and what asset sizes does it cover?
AA: For now our offer is targeted at the commercial and industrial sectors for systems valued up to R50m
NL: More solar installations are also now being integrated with energy storage to reduce intermittency. Does your solution also cover energy storage systems?
AA: Yes, all auxiliary equipment, including cables and batteries are insured, should it be included in the sum insured.
NL: Which major risk management challenges do you normally get requests to cover?
AA: In the current South African climate we are often asked about theft and also Sasria cover, which I am glad to say form part of our offering.
NL: What sets your solar insurance product apart from other products in the market?
AA: There are not many other offerings to be used as a comparison, but our offering is truly comprehensive. It must also be noted that our documentation and processes are simple, clear, and efficient.
NL: Apart from the current solar markets and sub-sectors you’re covering. Do you have plans to expand your focus area to let’s say utility scale and large scale projects?
AA: We have an open line to our risk carrier, Compass Insure, so if and when larger risks cross our desks they stand ready to assist us however required. We are exploring this area as we speak – so watch this space!
NL: Aside from the South African market, does Firedart have plans to offer solar insurance solutions to other African markets? And where do you see the most potential?
AA: For now our focus is on the booming SA market – it has kept us really busy. However, we are looking at projects in our neighbouring countries with keen interest. It is a definite possibility in the future.