The Greater Overberg Fire Protection Association is teaming up with solar energy finance company, Sun Exchange, to tackle the ever-increasing threat of wildfire. It’s a first-of-its-kind partnership for both the goFPA and Sun Exchange.
Through the deal, Sun Exchange is helping to support the goFPA to better prepare for fire season through educational awareness and other wildfire prevention steps. Their support will also help address wildfire suppression in the Overberg.
It’s an innovative arrangement between the two organisations that works like this:
Sun Exchange is a solar leasing platform that allows individuals from all over the world to own remotely-located solar cells and earn from the electricity they generate. The company currently has over 13 800 members from 158 countries owning cells in 25 solar projects. Solar cell owners can now donate any portion of their solar rental income to the goFPA for projects hosted on the platform between March and May 2020. This not only helps reduce global carbon emissions and provides affordable renewable energy, it also provides funding to the goFPA, which can effectively triple in value over a 20-year period.
According to the goFPA Manager, Louise Wessels, this could provide long-term support to the Overberg’s fire management strategy. “We’re thrilled to work with Sun Exchange in this initiative. It shows the trust they have not only in our work, but also in our landowners. This is a wonderful reward for all our hard-working and committed members.”
According to Sun Exchange, the company chose the goFPA because the organisation and its members play an ever-important role in coping with the threat of wildfire.
“As fires become more prevalent and ferocious, it is becoming clear that we can no longer only rely on suppression, but rather need to focus on fire prevention. The best solution is long-term and ongoing fire management, which is where Sun Exchange members can make a real impact by donating part or all of their solar cell rental income to goFPA for a period of 20 years.”
The importance of proactive landowners
According to Justin Sullivan, wildfire photographer, who played a key role in bringing about the partnership, landowners are becoming more proactive in wildfire prevention.
“This is due to a collective effort within the wildfire industry to promote education awareness. But we need to keep this up. Without this long-term funding, it’s incredibly difficult to maintain consistent awareness and prevention programmes to benefit not just general society, but also our ecologically-sensitive environment,” he says.
Wessels adds, “We see our fires are becoming more destructive, and we can see that the warmer weather, and the ongoing drought in the Overberg, are playing a role. The climate has changed over the past few years. So it makes sense for us to team up with a renewable energy partner who also sees the impact of a changing climate and offers us solutions to these challenges.”
She says, “This is a 20-year partnership. We know the goFPA and our members are set to benefit greatly from this.”