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Monday Jul 08, 2013

Cape property gets SA's largest roof-mounted solar energy system

The largest roof-mounted solar photovoltaic system in southern Africa is being installed at the Black River Office Park in Observatory, Cape Town.

The biggest roof-mounted solar photovoltaic system in southern Africa is being installed at Black River Office Park.

Phase one of the installation is being completed and is bigger than any other similar power system in southern Africa.

By the time the second phase is installed at the end of the year, it will be double the area, other than being one of the most technologically advanced systems in the world.

The first phase consists of 2 875 panels. A further 2 050 panels will be installed in phase two, with the entire system covering 8 000m - larger than a rugby field.

Once completed, it will generate about 1.9 gigawatt (1.9 million kilowatt) hours a year, or enough energy to power 1 000 average-sized houses.

The office park supports 5 500 offices workers over 76 000m² , which is equivalent to all the Grade A office space in Claremont. The solar panel system will generate enough power for tenants to run their operations significantly using green energy.

Joubert Rabie, developer and a co-shareholder in Black River Park, said the installation of the solar photovoltaic system had been planned for some time.

'It makes sense to run an operation that is green and sustainable, not only because of the impact it has on the environment, but also from a good business practice point of view. The system will operate for a minimum of 25 years, but the installation costs will be recouped within the first seven years.' The system has been designed so that power usage throughout the park can be monitored and micromanaged. It has built-in power curtailment devices to ensure that no electricity is fed back into the local grid system if the energy generated at any point exceeds the demand.

However, once legislation changes, over weekends and when power is not needed at Black River Park, the system will be able to supply power to the grid, and provide standby power in the event of outages.

The installation is also well positioned to take advantage of soon-to-be implemented carbon tax in South Africa, where the system could stand to benefit through the 1 725 tons of carbon dioxide saved each year through not relying on coalproduced electricity, says Rabie.

The solar photovoltaic installation was one of the factors taken into consideration by the Green Building Council of South Africa before it moved its offices to Black River Park.

'The opportunity for tenants to be able use green energy and potentially go offgrid means Black River Park meets some of the sustainable criteria for green building accreditation,' says Brian Wilkinson, chief executive of the Green Building Council of South Africa.

'This is a significant offering and many international branded companies are located at Black River Park. These include Adidas, Brandhouse, Oracle, Red Bull, AON, RGA insurance and others that have chosen to align themselves with international best business practice and sustainability standards.'
The solar photovoltaic system has been installed by SOLA Future Energy, a division of Aurora Power Solutions. It has been constructed using state-of-the-art multicrystalline silicon solar photovoltaic modules and has a guaranteed energy output.

SOLA managing director Chris Haw says that panels were placed to maximise the potential energy generated.

'The system has been designed to yield the optimal amount of energy based on the site conditions,' he says.

The Black River Park owners say this installation leads the way in sustainability and green practice.

'We started with recycling the old buildings that form the core of the operation, and now this solar panel system is at the cutting edge of green technology,' says Rabie.

'In future we hope to make this office park the first choice for tenants who want sustainable businesses.

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition)


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