Food and beverage manufacturer Pioneer Foods, in conjunction with energy solutions provider Energy Partners’ solar division, is rolling out a national solar programme, which is about 60% complete.
The programme entails the installation of large commercial solar systems with a combined size of 2.5 MWp at five of Pioneer’s manufacturing facilities: Ceres Fruit Juices, in Wadeville (780 kW), and Bokomo, in Clayville (440 kW), both in Gauteng; Sasko bakery, in Bloemfontein, Free State (261 kW); Klerksdorp Mill, in the North West (752 kW); and SAD Treefruit, in Worcester, Western Cape (298 kW).
The entire programme will comprise 90 SMA inverters and 7 800 Tier 1 solar modules covering a roof space of 15 600 m2.
Installation of the solar systems started in January, with work at the Klerksdorp and Clayville sites completed. The programme is expected to be completed by September, Energy Partners solar division head Manie de Waal tells Engineering News.
While saving on electricity expenses these solar solutions will also decrease the company’s carbon footprint, with the total effective carbon offset for these solar plants amounting to about 3 800 t/y.
Energy Partners Solar will further provide full monitoring, maintenance and cleaning programmes for these sites for 25 years to ensure optimal performance, De Waal says, stressing the importance of monitoring the solar systems daily.
He adds that the company has a dedicated maintenance and cleaning division, which it optimises for each site, based on unique site characteristics.
Energy Partners Solar’s other commercial projects include the installation of a 1 MWp solar plant for JSE-listed capital growth property fund Attacq’s Mooi River Mall, in the North West; a 360 kW plant for food supplier Fruit & Veg City’s distribution centre, in Johannesburg; 475 kW solar plants at two of healthcare services provider Netcare’s hospitals; and a 400 kW solar plant for food supplier Quantum Foods, in Gauteng.
“Our combined pipeline for build and sold projects is 6.3 MW, with 3.7 MW built to date,” says De Waal.
Despite relatively low knowledge levels and industry misconceptions about commercial solar systems, for example, grid-tied systems, price comparisons and return-on-investment calculations, market interest in these systems remain high, he notes.
He emphasises the viable investment of commercial solar power plants for business owners, adding that the company has developed alternative models, such as solar leases and co-ownership models.
“It is important for prospective clients to consider the actual track record in alternative solar models of service suppliers when they enter into these agreements. Structured correctly, these models can add immediate cost benefits to an organisation without any investment of capital.