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A Cape Town company is innovatively using the skills and production of a business, that traditionally services the fossil fuel industry, to build renewable energy products.

SustainPower partners with a Cape Town-based Unique Group to build its renewable energy products. Traditionally, the Unique Group provides saturation dive support vessels to the fossil fuel industry.

SustainPower manufactures containerised generators that convert biogas and landfill gas into electricity for heating or cooling. The company delivers to South Africa and African markets.

And SustainPower also builds containerised pre-installed solar systems equipped with solar PV modules and electronics. This technology offers applications for mini-grids, mobile and multipurpose installations.

The Unique Group’s engineers and technicians use their skills, equipment, and workshop in Epping, Cape Town to manufacture SustainPower’s products when they are not making dive support vessels.

Sustain Power’s CEO, Tobias Hobach, started the company with his business partner Ames Martin after Hobach participated in a masterclass and pre-incubation workshop series in 2017.

The City of Cape Town supports the South Africa Renewable Energy Business Incubator (Sarebi) masterclass and incubation programme to encourage local entrepreneurship. New ideas are supported to innovate and create jobs in the green economy.

Sarebi assists businesses like SustainPower with operational support including accounting services, human resources, industrial relations, payroll management, tax and VAT filing and back-end IT support. Sustain Power was in a very early conceptualisation stage of their business when the City provided support through Sarebi.

Within a year Sustain Power manufactured their 500Kw BioGas CHP generators from their facility in Cape Town. The company has become the only local manufacturer of gas-to-power generator sets. It is a first for the South African economy and the energy sector.

Sustain Power says it is motivated to provide a solution to the approximately 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa who do not have regular access to electricity.

Hobbach, SustainPower’s managing director, says they “strive to make a difference in the way developing economies generate power.”

“We have extensive experience in managing projects involving the maintenance and delivery of large equipment packages throughout the developing world,” said Martin, head of operations at Sustain Power.

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