Interview with Stefan Ortmann, Treetops

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Stefan Ortmann, Sales Manager

Treetops Renewable Energy Systems CC is the leading Turnkey System Integrator for Renewable Energy Systems and Solar Power in Cape Town. They are specialized in Solar Photovoltaic Systems and have a reliable and affordable supply of electricity to homes and businesses. Treetops provides detailed planning and designs for every client’s solar system and ensures that all requirements are understood and met.

What is Treetops background and competitive advantage?

Treetops was founded 11 years ago and was part of the Pilot Project for legal Solar Systems and the SSEG (Small Scale Embedded Generator) regulations for the City of Cape Town. Since then, Treetops has grown to be one of the biggest solar companies in Cape Town and implemented over 120 residential and commercial Solar Installations in South Africa, mostly in the Western Cape.

We don’t just sell pre-designed solar kits – all our systems are tailored to the clients’ needs. We exclusively use the highest quality equipment that has been proven to be reliable in the past 11 years and ensure that our teams are working to the highest standards. With warranties of up to 25 years on electronic equipment, we make sure the client’s investment is safe.

Who are Treetops’ target customers in the first instance? Consumers, prosumers or businesses?

Our clients are whoever requires assistance to reduce their electricity bill, put an end to load-shedding, or have not yet electricity at all. We have specialized in large residential applications and commercial/industrial solar systems up to 1.2MWp. We are also supporting several off-grid communities with our in-house designed and manufactured off-grid system, the Sunplug.

What platform does Treetops use?

We use a platform that will fit best for our clients’ purposes. Given the financial landscape in South Africa, Treetops chose to find a company that specialized in financing Solar Systems for commercial customers and ensuring that the client will save money from the 1st year of operation.

Who do you see as your biggest competitors? How is the African market looking at the moment?

Load-shedding is a significant driver for solar power. As soon as load-shedding starts, everyone is being reminded that with a Solar System + Batteries, this problem would not bother them. During load-shedding, we are receiving almost 50 inquiries per day. With our advanced technology, we are now busy with several businesses providing them with a full Battery Backup solution for their factories.

How much of a price increase will consumers find if they want the Freedom Won battery system with the solar installation?

This is a difficult question, as this very much depends on the consumption profile of clients. If you compare R/KW, you are probably looking at a factor of 2.5x the price for a harmonically sized Solar Battery System, compared to a battery-less system.

Which African countries are at the forefront of solar development at the moment? Where do you see the most growth happening in the future?

South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Egypt are all aware of how Solar Power can improve their power situation and living standards. Instead of building a whole new grid and supply network, it is cheaper to deploy decentralized solutions to provide rural communities with electricity.

How do you maintain your relationship with your clients?

We have a strong connection to our clients and work closely with them, even after the installation is done, and the system is running. We closely monitor all of our sites remotely and engage with the owner to prevent problems occurring.

After each installation of our Solar Systems, we have a handover and Feedback meeting with our clients, where we evaluate the whole process. We take this feedback very seriously and always strive to improve our services even further.

How does the current Coronavirus pandemic affect your business?

The supply line into the country has been severely affected, which causes significant delays on installations. Additionally, all businesses and people are affected by the recently started quarantine, which makes everyone a lot more cautious about spending money.

What kind of warranty do you offer on your hardware and installations?

  • We offer a 2-year warranty on our workmanship
  • Our Solar Panels come with 25 to 30 years of warranty
  • Our Inverters and Power Electronics have up to 25 years warranty
Solar installation in Cape Town

How do you calculate what system will give the customer the best return? What are the factors you need to take into consideration?

Everyone’s electricity consumption directly correlates to their required solar system size.

What is the estimated lifetime of Treetops solar system?

Thanks to the remote monitoring and control installed with all of our systems, we maintain and ensure their lifetime is going to be 20 or more years.

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