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Sun City’s solar installation performs beyond expectations

Photo by Creamer Media's Natasha Odendaal

Photo by Creamer Media's Natasha Odendaal

13th October 2023

By: Natasha Odendaal

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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The newly installed solar plant at Sun International’s Sun City, in the North West, is exceeding expectations, having saved the company over R1-million over the past two months.

The R16-million, grid-tied, 1.4 MW installed capacity system, with 2 584, 550 W monocrystalline solar photovoltaic modules, was installed on the roof of Sun City’s conference and entertainment centre earlier this year to reduce the resort’s reliance on South Africa’s electricity grid.

The system, providing about 10% to 15% of Sun City’s electricity needs, has delivered above expectations, even though peak production will only be reached in mid-December, said Sun City GM Brett Hoppe during a media tour of the rooftop plant this week.

Initially, R3.2-million in yearly net savings were projected; however, data acquired from the plant’s intelligent consumption dashboard, operated by installer Tsebo Energy Solutions, shows that 413 871 kWh in energy savings were achieved over the past two months, equating to savings of more than R1-million, considering both energy and demand reductions, explained Tsebo Facilities Solutions CEO Aubrey McElnea.

“We are super-excited about what it has been producing to date and we have immediately embarked on another 10% on top of what we have,” Hoppe said, noting that a further 209 panels were ready to be installed by November, bringing installed capacity to just under 1.6 MW.

Following this, Sun City is working on a large-scale project that will take the resort off the national grid entirely, while adding about 20% to 30% in excess of its electricity requirements.

“We are deep into the evaluation phase of that particular project and we will have the evaluation phase completed by the end of December,” he explained, highlighting the North West province where the resort was based was the second most productive in terms of solar capacity in the country after the Northern Cape.

“The yields are really, really good.”

Tsebo Energy Solutions senior operations engineer TM Lesetla said that the installed plant, equipped with 12 newly installed 112 kW inverters tied into Sun City’s internal electrical network, will displace an equivalent of 2 367 571 kWh yield a year, with the highest levels of energy production expected in nine out of the 12 months.

“This is an equivalent of what 329 average-sized South African households consume over a year,” he said.

The installation of the solar plant also created 23 job opportunities for individuals from the local community, who were employed on a contract basis for a period of four months to remove about 12 600 m2 of tiles and install more than 2 500 solar modules on the conference facility’s roof.

“Each local staff member underwent rigorous health and safety training, in addition to comprehensive on-the-job training during the project's tile clearing and solar installation phases,” explained Sun City sustainability manager Lwazi Mswelanto, pointing out that all projects undertaken by the company require the transfer of skills.

“Our doorstep communities rely on Sun City for employment and we, in turn, rely on them to provide us with services, so for us it is crucial to be able to give back to our neighbours.”

“This is one of the many initiatives that Sun City, in particular, and Sun International, are rolling out to reduce energy use both from a supply and a demand perspective. Efficient lighting, HVAC retrofits and reconfigurations, water-heating and a gradual move to renewables all form part of the plan,” said Hoppe.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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