SolarWorld Africa installs Western Cape’s first PV system at produce cooling facility

SolarWorld together with installation partner, African Technical Innovation, supplied and installed the Western Cape’s first and largest roof-mounted photovolataic (PV) system to date in the agricultural sector at the Ceres Koelkamers. A pioneer in the agricultural sector, the fruit and vegetable cooling facility in Ceres, saw the installation of 508 kWp completed in record speed between 1 December 2012 and 17 January 2013.

SolarWorld supplied 2117 SW240 poly PV panels for the array spanning two cold storage buildings covering an area of approximately xxxm2. The installation is expected to generate 840 000kWh per year of power for the cold storage facilities to refrigerate harvested produce. The facility consumes around 5 000 000kWh per year and the installation will save the facility up to 20% of their annual electricity bill and off-set the carbon emissions by 839.52 tons of CO2per year for more than twenty-five years.

“SolarWorld is the preferred supplier for Deutsche Bank solar projects. This means the meeting of strict financial key performance indicators, i.e. Watt output per square metre, kWh/kWp. With expected yields of 80-85% of irradiation, our clients can be sure that their investment delivers feasible ROI,” says Gregor Kuepper, SolarWorld Africa’s Managing Director.

Ceres Koelkamers made this landmark decision to opt for solar power as opposed to wind and hydropower for the reason that the region does not have water or wind in great supply, however sunshine hours are high. In addition, the period when the greatest cooling is required is the exact same time as when the region receives its highest irradiation, namely summer.

“We felt that somebody had to take the risk and we were brave enough to do it first. Ceres Koelkamers is confident that we will be in business for longer than the next 30 years and have faith in the South African agricultural industry, and for this reason we are investing in high quality products with a long lifespan which have the capacity to produce electricity for 25–30 years and more. We could have built another koelkamer with the funds or saved on our annual electricity bill for the next 25 years and more and the decision was made to save electricity,” says Francis Matthee, Managing Director of Ceres Koelkamers.

Kobus Engelbrecht, General Manager of African Technical Innovation who installed the system advised Ceres Koelkamers on the business case behind the solar system: “We wanted to get the best product at the lowest prices, with a 25 year guarantee in order to justify the capital investment. With the best quality product on the market, SolarWorld still presented the best financial case as well,” adds Engelbrecht. The project was subsidised within the Government’s Integrated Demand Management (IDM) Programme. The programme’s focus is to ensure short-term security of electricity supply through coordinating and consolidating the various initiatives aimed at optimising energy use and balancing electricity supply and demand.

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