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Africa's largest industrial rooftop solar plant in Pietermaritzburg

By on 7 October 2013

Pietermaritzburg is leading the way with Africa’s first 1MW rooftop grid-tied solar plant. Awareness and concern for climate change is growing, and with an increase in electricity costs of 200% in the last five years, businesses are increasingly looking to implement more environmentally friendly, sustainable and cost effective energy solutions.

One such company is Belgotex Floorcoverings (Pty) Ltd who has invested in the expertise of Sustainable Power Solutions (Pty) Ltd to transform one of their roofs into Africa'€™s largest industrial grid-tied solar plant.

Recognizing the trend of ever increasing electricity prices, Belgotex made the decision to build a 1MW solar plant on the 100 000m² roof of their manufacturing facility at a cost of R17 million as part of their strategy to offset 5% of their carbon emissions. Power Solutions installed the solar plant in two and a half months, and the system will be ready for implementation by early November 2013.

How it works

The system is built on the north-facing roof of the facility at an angle of 15 degrees resulting in a yield of 1415 MWh per annum. The entire installation comprises 4080 poly crystalline modules each rated at 245 Watt peak. The solar modules are tied to 64 Danfoss three-phase grid inverters and the output of the grid inverters is integrated into Belgotex€'™s electricity system at 11000 Volts. The integrated web server function in the inverter compiles data on the status of the solar plant which is fed to a web portal, and can be easily accessed by Belgotex and the operations and maintenance team.

The energy generated daily is estimated to power 200 average households and avoids carbon emissions of 1 386 tons each year from not having to rely on coal produced electricity. Sustainable Power Solutions MD, Axel Scholle says, "The interest of commercial and industrial clients in solar power generation is what will make solar power sustainable in South Africa and will ultimately lead to a change in how the electricity sector in South Africa will operate to incorporate the increasing contribution of intermittent renewable energy generation."

Sustainable Power Solutions boasts a highly qualified and dynamic team of engineers and professionals with over 30 years local and international experience in the renewable energy sector. The optimised engineering design, the use of high quality components and consistent service offer as demonstrated in previous projects such as Dube TradePort (700kWp), Glaxo Smith Kline (80kWp) and Impahla Clothing (30kWp) bear reference to this. For more information about Sustainable Power Solutions contact 021 851 6308 or visit Power Solutions (Pty) Ltd.

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