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Impower successfully installs solar PV, battery storage at E Cape estate

22nd January 2024

By: Sabrina Jardim

Creamer Media Online Writer

     

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Solar installation company Impower has launched a flagship solar photovoltaic (PV) and battery energy storage system (BESS) facility at Coral Beach Residential Estate, in the Eastern Cape.

Prior to the installation, the estate’s power supply depended on a busy commercial line, which was often vandalised by copper thieves. This resulted in frequent and extended power outages, in addition to the regular loadshedding.

Hence, a typical two- to five-hour backup power system would not be sufficient. 

“It was a huge challenge to get the project up and running, but together with our partners JA Solar, SolarMD and Schletter Mounting Systems, we had the experience, and the know-how, to successfully implement this technically complex project,” says CEO Jay Naidoo.

“We needed to build something future-proof. The newly launched system boasts a solar capacity of 388 kW and a lithium-ion BESS with a capacity of 1.5 MWh. But what sets the Coral Beach facility apart is the unique single-axis tracker system.

“It allows the solar panels to follow the sun's daily arc. That’s how we optimised the energy yield within the limited space we had to work with. This translates into an elegant, efficient system, offering consistent, reliable power for the residents,” adds Impower head of engineering Gabriel Kroes.

HOW IT WORKS

Harnessing the sun, the plant withstands the peak morning load and is running at full tilt – no longer discharging batteries – by about 08:00 or 09:00. As the community use drops off around noon and the sunlight reaches its mid-day peak, the BESS system is fully charged and powering the community.

“At a time when so many are living in the dark [owing] to loadshedding, we're proud to be blazing a new trail with a solar-powered estate that's able to provide our residents with reliable, sustainable energy.

“Thanks to Impowers' BESS, we can ensure our Coral Beach Estate community remains unaffected by loadshedding, while also giving back to the environment. We're committed to doing our part to create a brighter future for our community and our country. Thus, the facility provides the estate with eight hours of backup, as well as the cost savings that accrue from tapping a cheaper, cleaner energy source,” enthuses Coral Beach Estate owner Charles Pittaway.

One of the major obstacles to renewable energy adoption has been the prohibitive upfront costs.

Impower mitigated this through a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) model, allowing the homeowners’ association to pay for the power on a pay-as-you-use basis, and eliminating the need for any upfront capital expenditure investment on their part.

Naidoo explains that the project is an “elegantly engineered solution, wrapped in a bespoke commercial model, that allows for a ‘win-win-win’ scenario”.

In this model, Impower and its partners are direct investors, with a real stake in the project’s success.

“The model was welcomed by the residents, who didn’t have to pay a cent for the installation or set-up. We’re selling energy to the homeowners’ association, [using] a long-term PPA.

“We currently match Eskom’s energy cost, but unlike conventional power, our energy costs won’t rise significantly over the years. This means that the residents of Coral Beach will enjoy increasing savings on their home energy costs for every year of the 20-year PPA,” he points out.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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