Technology solutions provider Jasco has completed its three-year solar farm project, which has reduced its maximum electricity demand by 27% and its reliance on State-owned power utility Eskom by 33%.
“Phase 1 of the project – which started in April 2015 – resulted in the installation of 53 kWp of solar panels along with two 25 kW inverters that enabled the system to produce 50 kW of energy at peak performance times,” says Jasco power and energy consulting solutions architect Kevin Norris.
He adds that, during Phase 2, the company installed a new carport system that increased the total solar energy output of Jasco’s head offices to 150 kWp, with an increased inverted output power of 125 kW in alternating current.
“The civil works to install the aluminium carports took four weeks to complete, with the solar panel installations completed only two weeks thereafter. There are 3 m3 of concrete underneath each pillar,” Norris explains.
However, he warns that, if the solar panels are not cleaned properly and tested regularly, there could be a performance loss of 30% after three months.
“Performance losses after one week of not cleaning a solar panel can be as low as 1%, with performance decreasing between 5% and 7% after two weeks of not cleaning a panel and between 10% and 15% after three weeks.”
Moreover, Norris points out that, although the installation has been completed, the Jasco office is still ‘tied’ to the national grid, which allows for seamless use between 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.”
In this way, the solar system is not a backup to traditional power, but rather a complementary source of clean energy in situations such as power outages, he notes. In the event of power cuts, Jasco Park still fails-over to generators, to keep data-centre operations running and ensure that staff can continue working.
“Our vision for this project is to showcase for clients the opportunities presented when using solar energy and to encourage other corporates to embrace clean energy,” concludes Norris.