Western Cape (South Africa) nature reserve installs solar power


Gecko Rock eco adventure nature reserve, near Touws River in the Western Cape, has installed a 1,6 kW solar photovoltaic (PV) array to supply power for a residence on the property and a conference and training facility. 
The off-grid renewable energy system, with 8 kWh of average daily solar production, was installed for about the same cost that it would have taken to extend the electricity grid to this point of the property. 
Following the initial capital outlay of about R140 000, the running costs are minimal, and no monthly electrical bills are received. 
The array comprises one ‘string’ of three panels with three Tenesol PV modules in each panel, generating a total of 1 620 W. The panels are mounted on dual-axis manual trackers and receive about five hours of peak sun a day, on average. 
The Tenesol PV modules are manufactured at the company’s facility in Cape Town. The installation team consisted of My Power Station director and team leader David Lipschitz responsible for sales and design, with welding, dual axis trackers and metal work by Intricate Steel director Steven Mulder, and electrical design by SolarSells director Peter Burden. 
Lipschitz explains that the system has been sized to operate lighting, a satellite phone system and satellite data system used for four hours a day and on standby 20 hours a day, an LCD TV set with DSTV decoder, a laptop, a 220 V energy efficient refrigerator, a hi-fi system and a digital projector on occasion. 
The system could also manage greater outputs than this, and has been sized to allow for audiovisual equipment for conferences and training courses to be held at Gecko Rock, which operates veld school tours and 4×4 training, for example. 
Lipschitz notes that the system could also easily be expanded. The solar array is connected to a 24 V 675 Ah battery bank and 1 200 W inverter charger with generator backup. 
The 8-kWh battery backup capacity could provide power for about three or four days should there be no solar irradiation. The battery bank consists of 12 six-volt Trojan T105

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