The Big 5 Aquila Private Game Reserve near Cape Town has concluded a deal which will see all its daylight energy requirements covered by solar power.
With the installation of a 60 kilowatt facility, the initial step in the development of a 50 MegaWatt plant, the game reserve, already recognised for its social upliftment and conservation efforts, will further its contribution to environmentally friendly tourism. The 60 kW facility will be a Concentrator Photovoltaic (CPV) system, with panels that move to track the sun, a first for South Africa, and will be operational from September 1.
The new solar panel facility will be housed at ARC (Aquila Rehabilitation & Conservation Centre) which is situated on a separate piece of land directly opposite the main entrance of the prestigious Aquila Private Game Reserve. Aquila has invested over R1 million building a large outdoor sanctuary comprising of several 1 hectare fenced camps where these once doomed canned lions can live out the remainder of their lives. Derman said, canned lions which Aquila had rescued from certain death and the cheetahs that will be part of a cheetah breeding programme would literally be walking next to the solar panels.
“With many hours of abundant sunshine in the beautiful Cape Karoo, Aquila is a perfect site for the use of solar energy. I am proud to have initiated what I believe to be the ultimate responsible usage of land as a platform for sustainable; social upliftment, conservation and renewable energy projects, in one of South Africa’s most impoverished towns and during a national power crisis.” said Aquila owner Searl Derman.
The deal has been signed with Concentrix Solar, a leading German supplier of Concentrator Photovoltaic systems who have been active in South Africa since 2008. It is the company’s first power facility in the country. Between Aquila and Concentrix there will also be a skills development programme to train over 200 local residents of Touws River in security, construction and maintenance of the solar plants. This will add to the ongoing skills development programmes already in execution at Aquila in the construction, tourism and game ranging fields.
Derman has always had been committed to uplifting the town of Touws River ever since hearing about the withdrawal of the railway from the town in the 1980’s. This left massive unemployment of approximately 97% of a town of 9000 people. Derman recognised as ‘Champion of the Poor’ by the press and featured on Carte Blanche and Focus for his award winning social upliftment and conservation efforts that have sustained the town. These include; a soup kitchen that have swopped food for litter and feed up to 12000 meals per month. By cleaning the town, the recycled litter is used to pay for the school teachers. Derman continues to support the old age home and developed youth by sponsoring the town’s rugby, cricket and soccer teams. Furthermore, Derman has donated several thousand blankets over the past 10 years providing at least 1 blanket to almost every person in the town.
Aquila, established in 1998, offers locals and foreign guests the opportunity to view the Big 5 just 2 hours from Cape Town and is on a natural progression of expansion and is committed to responsible practices.