Alex Rose-Innes

Marc Boshof, head of Strategic Initiatives for Nedbank Business Banking, said the climate crisis had now reached such proportions that banks had embarked on contributing to and financing United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).

Nedbank, as the first South African (SA) bank to issue green bonds on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), would no longer finance new coal-fired power plants.

In an expert opinion piece, Boshof said that renewable energy finance would be the way of banking’s financial assistance in the future. The bank had already embarked on financing renewable energy solutions to commercial enterprises, specialising in the agricultural, service, manufacturing and financial sectors in SA. This is in line with the Paris Agreement’s SDG’s regarding affordable and clean energy, not only in SA, but across the African continent, regarded as the most pressings issues to combat harmful carbon emissions.

Typical applications would include the installation of photovoltaic panels on buildings with large roofs such as warehouses, factories, shopping malls and office blocks. Of the most pressing installations would also see the establishment of solar and wind farms on vacant land. Finally, it would target energy-intensive businesses which could benefit from more cost-effective and cleaner generation than the national grid can provide.


“Banks would in future aim not only to be good with money but more importantly, to do good with its resources as well” – Boshof

A recent innovation financed by the bank is South Africa’s first commercial floating solar farm near Franschhoek in the Western Cape. Banks across the globe now consider longer payback periods for solar and other sustainability-related projects and become actively involved in finding creative solutions for new projects, not just providing finance.

The floating solar park in Franschoek can produce 60 kW of energy and is used to power from irrigation pumps to fruit packaging machinery for export. A follow-up phase of this project would see the installation of a battery system to ensure the farm in its entirety could operate at full capacity completely off the grid.

Boshof added that businesses looking to go green and apply for finance should do proper research to find the right suppliers with the most expertise, equipment and solutions. Furthermore, he advised that different technologies should be researched as well as pricing, guarantees and post-sales maintenance. “Obtain quotes and specifications to compare the generation outputs, costs and equipment with the research and the various suppliers’ offerings,” was his advice.

With the SA Photovoltaic Industry Association’s input, a special PVGreenCard had been developed. This would provide assurance that the installer is qualified, follows the latest industry guidelines, uses quality components, specifies the system correctly and installs it properly. It would also guarantee that the system would perform to specification.

Nedbank additionally provides solutions for companies wishing to generate energy for end-users such as independent power producers (IPP’s) which bill their clients like municipalities and Eskom. “The benefit for the end-user is a fixed pricing module with built-in, mutually agreed increases over 25 years or more. The bank partners with potential IPP’s to create a business entity, fund the purchase of equipment and assist with the legal documentation and agreements.

“When applying for finance, business owners should ensure that the specifications, invoices, agreements or contracts supplied by the installer accompany the financial records of the company and electricity bills,” was Boshof’s final advice.

Nigeria, floating solar panels are already in use