Company starts installation of largest rooftop PV system in Southern Africa

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    Energy solutions provider SolarWorld Africa, in collaboration with engineering, procurement and construction partner African Technical Innovations, has started the supply and installation of a 1.015 MWp rooftop photovoltaic (PV) system in Ceres, which it says will, once completed, be the largest in Southern Africa.

    The rooftop PV system, commissioned by fruit packaging and beverage company Ceres Fruit Growers, comprises 4 060 polycrystalline panels, which will be installed on the roofs of four of the company’s north-facing refrigerated rooms.

      The system will provide power to the refrigeration compressor rooms during peak season, generating some 6%, or 1 690 MWh, of Ceres’ yearly electricity consumption, reducing the company’s carbon footprint by about 1 622 t/y over the next 25 years and beyond.

    Ceres MD Francois Malan said the primary reason for installing a renewable-energy system of this size was to ensure partial fixed electricity costs in the face of swelling electricity tariffs.
    “A combination of individual tariff increases by Eskom and increases by our local municipality suggest an average price escalation of at least 11% for our business. Taking into account the fact that our operations consume approximately 29 700 MWh of electricity yearly, this PV system will result in considerable savings for us,” he commented.

    African Technical Innovations MD Kobus Engelbrecht said an installation of this size was indicative of the drive in the South African agriculture sector towards the use of sustainable and renewable-energy sources, while SolarWorld Africa MD Gregor Küpper called it an “industry milestone”.
    “Agribusiness is starting to see the long-term advantages of investment in renewables through the environmental and economic benefits. With electricity tariffs increasing yearly, it makes economic sense for businesses such as Ceres Fruit Growers to explore solar power in order to fix their electricity costs,” he said.

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