The plant, besides generating enough electricity to take the farm nearly off the grid will also reduce its carbon emissions by half.
New Southern Energy, a leading South African-based, full-service renewable energy provider for distributed energy projects throughout Africa, has installed the continents first commercially operated floating solar PV power plant at the Marlenique fruit farm in South Africa’s Western Cape.
The 60 kWp floating solar installed on the farm’s dam, will generate clean energy, while also minimising evaporation from the farm’s dam and saving valuable agricultural land.
The first phase of the project, which also includes a land-based solar installation on the farm, will allow the farm to run 90% of its energy-intensive cold storage, irrigation and wedding venue facilities off of the traditional electricity grid. A second phase which will see the installation of battery packs will remove them from the grid completely.
The complete solution will include, an internal AC reticulation upgrade and consolidation of connection points, installation of a backup generator to run the internal grid in the event of power outages, a 534 kWp ground-mounted solar system, a 60 kWp floating solar system and provision for infrastructure to allow for battery system to be included during phase two to take the site completely off-grid.
French floating solar developers, Ciel & Terre, participated in the project. Of their contribution to the state-of-the-art system, Jack Setton, Ciel & Terre’s EMEA Business Developer, said, “We’re delighted to have delivered South Africa’s first commercial floating PV installation, in collaboration with Floating Solar PTY and New Southern Energy. Irrigation reservoirs like this one are perfect for solar projects, and we see great opportunities on the Western Cape’s countless dams, particularly for clients such as wineries or fruit growers.”
On the completion of the system, their representative Peter Varndell said, “Congratulations to New Southern Energy for completing this first commercial-scale Floating Solar plant in Africa. There is significant potential to replicate this technology in the African market where it can be used to provide clean energy for mining, industrial, agricultural, water treatment works, hydropower and reservoir sites.”
Minister Beverley Schäfer said, “This project has looked at some of the key issues sustainability issues we are facing in agriculture and the economy today- water and energy- and has attempted to find solutions. “The system reduces the farm’s reliance on the electricity grid, and provides clean, affordable energy supply, while at the same time also reducing evaporation and saving water.”