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Tuesday Nov 11, 2014

Sun, wind power for Durban

Durban wants to erect hundreds of solar energy panels at the Moses Mabhida Stadium and other municipal buildings, plus two large wind turbines, to encourage local companies and other municipalities to start switching to renewable energy.

The city hopes to generate about 500kW of electricity by installing solar photovoltaic panels at eight city-owned buildings, and a further 300kW of power from two wind turbines at the Westville campus of the University of KwaZuluNatal.

The buildings were selected owing to their visibility and exposure to the public.

Tender documents published by the city suggest that the sun-power panels will be installed on the base of the Moses Mabhida northern arch, at the adjoining People's Park restaurant, metro police headquarters, uShaka Marine World, Kings Park swimming pool, eThekwini Water and Sanitation building, Loram House and the Buffelsdraai visitor centre near Verulam.

The aim of the project is to promote rooftop solar power in Durban and set an example for the private sector and other municipalities to follow.

It would also help eThekwini's Energy Office to gain first-hand experience in "understanding the barriers to photovoltaic power and also allow the municipality to test its own policies and practices".

Any excess power not used by the eight city buildings would be fed into the municipal power grid.

Two engineers from the Energy Office would also be attached to the project to gain onthe-job experience in designing solar power installations.

The second renewable power project involves two 150kW wind turbines at the UKZN Westville campus. The turbines – 30m high with a blade diameter of 23m – were donated by the city of Bremen in Germany about four years ago.

Initially, the wind turbines were to be installed next to the Bluff military base as a showcase project ahead of the COP 17 Climate Change summit in Durban in 2011.

However, the project was halted because of concerns that it was being rushed through, without considering the negative impacts for one of South Africa's largest colonies of slit-faced bats.

The eThekwini Energy Office says the exact site of the wind turbines at the Westville campus would depend on the findings of a study by natural scientists on the potential impacts for both bats and birds.

Last week, the UN expert panel on climate change released a new report offering conclusive scientific evidence that human-induced emissions continued to influence the world's climate system and that, left unchecked, this would would cause severe and irreversible impacts for people and the environment.

The Mercury

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