If you’ve been around Newsclip’s head office lately, you will have noticed a great deal of installation going on.
In this light (excuse the pun), Newsclip’s MD, Simon Dabbs, invited the team responsible for the installation to explain the staged process to Newsclip staff, so that our newly appointed solar farm brand ambassadors could equip themselves, the community and interested parties with insightful information with regards to solar energy. Dabbs introduced Dr Stuart Fredman, managing director of Rhino Energy Solutions, explaining that they met in Dullstroom while installing a hybrid solar PV solution. Fredman said that there are those who think global warming is just a marketing ploy, and others who know it is real. He explained that the sun creates the energy we use by showing a short scene-set movie by Solon, whose pay-off line is ‘don’t leave the planet to the stupid’. The movie showed that 970-trillion kW of sunshine falls on the earth per day. Add this to the ‘bulletproof’ reasons Fredman lists on why we need to start doing something, such as the fact that while a 2° rise in temperature might not have much of an effect at the equator, it is catastrophic if you think of the melting icecaps and destruction of rainforests and proliferation of deserts.
If you take this into account, along with what Fredman calls “rising energy starvation, energy poverty and high costs”, we need to make an effort to actively change the status quo. While there are 1-billion people on the African continent, we produce 4% of the global electrical energy consumption – and of that, 50% comes from South Africa. We also have roughly 2 500 hours of sunshine every year that goes to waste. Clearly, something needs to be done.
This is where the ‘solar farm’ comes in. Complete with a few hundred rescued aloes that have been donated by Garden Culture, 220 panels of 230 electrical watts each are being installed outside the main Newsclip building, which will result in 50.6 kW of direct current (DC). This is then converted to the alternating current (AC) generally used. This is synchronised in real-time which means we can run infrastructure without any interruptions. The installation will off-set approximately 92 tons of carbon dioxide per year – equivalent to the electricity usage of 10.4 average households per year. The excess power will then be exported on the main City Power/Eskom grid and dynamically exported to where it is needed. A graphics interface will also be installed that displays in real-time exactly how much energy is displaced – the system is optimised for the best total solar yield and performance over 12 months.
According to Kearney, a large model of what a carbon ton actually looks like is under construction and will be placed alongside the solar panels, so that interested visitors can see the scale of how much CO2 will be saved on an annual basis. As Fredman told us, “We can’t control the sun, we can only control what is in our hands and how we use this energy resource.” When you consider that South Africa`s solar radiation yield is over twice that of Europe, making it one of the highest in the world, switching to solar makes a lot of sense, especially as it is the most readily accessible resource available.
Does this sound exciting? It is happening all over the world, but South Africa is only just catching up. Newsclip’s solar farm will be one of the first ground-mounted solar parks in Gauteng, so if you are in the area, come around for a tour! Our building is already pretty eco-friendly with its large glass windows that allow for natural light. And that’s not all – energy wastage will be reduced as we replace halogen lights in the building and come up with new ways to think smarter and have less of a negative impact on the planet.
As a final thought, Fredman stated that Thomas Edison predicted back in 1931 that we would one day be driving solar-powered cars – this doesn’t seem so far-fetched anymore. You can keep track of the initiative with our new Facebook and Twitter pages – follow us and let us know what you think!
PS: Have you been inspired to ‘go green’, but still looking for somewhere to start? If so, we recommend watching Mark Sampson’s Africa Clockwise, which runs from 1 to 19 November at Old Mutual’s Theatre on the Square. Sampson is on a mission to educate South Africa about the reality of climate change – and get a few laughs in the process.