A 353 kW solar photovoltaic (PV) plant at turnout systems company voestalpine VAE South Africa’s Isando premises would supply between 40% and 45% of the company’s daily electricity requirements, CEO David Marite said.
He said that the company had invested about R8-million in the plant, which was officially launched and connected on Wednesday.
PV solutions provider SUNCYbernetics, in partnership with Germany-based SUNfarming, was responsible for its installation.
SUNCYbernetics junior technical design engineer and project manager for the voestalpine installation Faure van Schalkwyk explained that SUNfarming provided the technology and was the engineering, procurement and construction contractor for the project, while SUNCYbernetics handled the project development and project management aspects.
The installation of the plant’s about 1 400 solar panels, 700 of which faced west, started in May this year and was completed within a week, after which the alternating current installations were done, inverters and cabling installed and other finalising work completed Van Schalkwyk explained.
He said that, when installing solar PV plants of this nature, SUNCYbernetics sized the system in such a way that the customer uses most of the energy produced.
“We sized [the plant] as far as possible according to their normal use. All the electricity that is produced is used by voestalpine, and any extra electricity is reduced,” he said, explaining that this meant that no electricity would be supplied back into the Eskom grid.
Meanwhile, SUNCYbernetics had also signed a one-year maintenance contract with voestalpine.
Van Schalkwyk pointed out that this contract also included the cleaning of the system, which was necessary after testing found that dirt on the modules could result in a 10% to 15% loss of generation capacity.
“In terms of the cleaning, we will have a monitoring system in place. Once the performance is less than a certain percentage, we will send out a team to clean the panels,” he said, adding that SUNCYbernetics was also doing research in conjunction with North West University on how to best clean the panels.
Meanwhile, Marite explained that voestalpine’s installation of the PV plant was in line with the greater voestalpine group’s drive to be more conscious about the use of green energy.