The 558 kW ground-mounted photovoltaic (PV) solar plant at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), in Pretoria, is fully operational with initial testing completed in 2015.
The project, which began construction in June last year, forms part of the CSIR’s aim to run its Pretoria campus totally on renewable energy and, therefore, move totally off grid.
The single axis tracker PV plant can rotate the PV modules to track the path of the sun, enabling it to yield more than 20% of additional solar energy a year than a similarly sized fixed ground-mounted PV plant.
The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) of the R10.7-million PV plant was overseen by locally-based renewable-energy services and solutions provider juwi Renewable Energy.
juwi MD Greg Austin tells Engineering News that this is a flagship project for the company and will set the benchmark for distributed renewable energy in South Africa.
“By pushing the market towards the lowest cost per kilowatt-hour offered over the project’s full lifetime, the CSIR demonstrates that it is possible for public entities to procure smaller- scale renewable-energy facilities at rates that undercut traditional grid-sourced electri- city tariffs,” says Austin.
He notes that the favourable levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) from the project enables juwi to achieve a cost of 83c/kWh over the lifetime of the new PV solar facility using the CSIR’s LCOE model.
The 1ha tracking solar plant will produce more than 3.5-million kilowatt-hours in the first three years, while the LCOE compares favourably with the 82c/kWh from Round 4 of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme.
Austin adds that the project will also enable the CSIR’s Pretoria campus to become an effective small-scale producer of its own electricity.
The company offers project development and EPC services, as well as products and solutions supporting the transition to sustainable energy sources. Its vision is to achieve 100% renewable energy and its focus is to work together to implement renewable-energy projects economically and reliably.