Technology solutions provider Jasco’s Power Solutions & Renewable Energy team will leverage its experiences from its successful solar project as a base for understanding the engineering, procurement and construction requirements for solar energy systems in high-end residential, commercial and small-scale utility projects.
In 2015, Jasco realised the opportunity to become a leader in the field of renewable energy, and honed its expertise by establishing a solar project at its own head office complex.
Located in Midrand, Jasco Park houses over 250 of the firm’s staff, as well as a data centre and various other amenities.
The company’s vision was to use solar electricity to power much of the complex’s energy needs, to cut down on the costs of traditional power, reduce dependence on the national grid and gain valuable insights into clean energy deployments.
An additional upside of this project is that Jasco is able to use its head office as a reference site and showcase in order to better serve clients.
The team began the installation of a solar carport system in April 2015. Phase 1 of the project involved the installation of 53 kW solar panels, accompanied by two 25 kW inverters to generate up to 50 kW ac power during peak generation periods.
Jasco Power & Energy consulting solutions architect Kevin Norris explains that, because of the westerly orientation of the Phase 1 project, peak solar generation occurred in the early afternoon, matching the peak load profile of the Jasco campus, which occurred as a result of commercial operations and air conditioning loads.
Phase 2 saw the additional installation of a brand-new solar carport system in the northern section of the Jasco campus. This upgrade saw total photovoltaic generation increase to 150 kW, with an increase in invertor output power to 125 kW ac.
The solar system remains ‘tied’ to the national grid, which enables seamless consumption between both the traditional power source and the new solar generation. Energy needs are primarily served by solar power and supported by the national grid where needed.
As a result, in situations such as power outages, the solar system is not a backup to traditional power, but rather a complementary source of clean energy. “In the event of power cuts, Jasco Park still fails-over to generators to keep the data centre operations running and ensure staff are still able to work,” Norris explains.
By the end of the second phase, the team had effectively matched campus demand with a reliable supply of new, clean energy.
As a result of this initiative, Jasco has reduced its maximum demand by 27% and reduced its consumption of electricity from State-owned utility Eskom by 33%.
Both these reductions have resulted in significant financial savings, even at today’s tariff structure. “If you project these savings going forward, with Eskom’s current request to increase electricity costs by 20% a year, you can see how Jasco has largely insulated itself against future tariff price shocks.”
“Overall, we’ve reduced the carbon footprint by 50%,” reports Jasco Renewable Energy MD Dave Smith, adding that the payback timeframe is pegged at five to six years, but, if national energy tariffs and carbon taxes rise higher than inflation, that timeframe may be brought even further forward.
At certain times, such as weekends, Jasco Park actually becomes a net exporter of energy. It then sells energy back to the national grid, creating a new, and growing, revenue stream.
“Throughout the process, we used this project as an opportunity to create blueprints for our renewable energy programmes within our clients’ environments,” notes Smith.
Norris comments that this is in line with Jasco’s vision for this project – to tangibly demonstrate the opportunities presented by the implementation of solar energy, while encouraging other corporates to embrace clean energy.