South Africans have shown that they have the power during Earth Hour

“South Africans have shown that we have the power during Earth Hour to make a difference when Eskom confirmed last year that we had switched off and achieved a massive, combined 629MW average reduction on our electricity usage”, says Nicolette Pombo-van Zyl, programme director for Clean Power Africa and African Utility WeekShe was speaking in the run-up to this weekend’s global Earth Hour, during which everyone is encouraged to switch off their lights and all other electricity they are using for that hour from 8.30-9.30pm. Last year’s saving was up from 2012, when according to Eskom, energy usage reduced by approximately 402MW during Earth Hour – enough electricity to power Bloemfontein.

© Ondrej Vavricek

Saving power with solar water heaters

Sarah Ward, of the City of Cape Town’s Energy Efficiency Forum which is organising the City’s Earth Hour festivities at the V&A Waterfront this weekend, agrees: “by installing a solar water heater, the electricity bill of a typical middle income household of four people, should come down by up to 50% per household.”

She says installing solar water geysers will have a very significant impact on electricity consumption: “If we see the number of installations that we are aiming for, we should have a 10% consumption reduction across the whole of Cape Town – that includes businesses, industries and households. It also means a lot of investment in solar water heater companies, the creation of jobs for installation teams.” Sarah is one of several speakers from the City at African Utility Week and Clean Power Africa where leading providers of renewable energy technology will display their products.

Embracing renewable energy

Two Clean Power Africa sponsors, solar experts SMA and First Solar, were recently involved in the installation of a 20 kilowatt (kW) thin film solar photovoltaic (PV) plant at Camphill Village in the Western Cape that will make its dairy one of the first in South Africa to embrace renewable energy. The dairy, which provides employment for intellectually disabled adults, will now use solar electricity for its production of organic milk, cheese and yoghurt products for retail. 

The construction of the solar installation took only a month and will make the dairy self-sufficient with an uninterruptible power supply which will enable them to utilise the savings in electricity for other projects, repairs and infrastructure.

“We anticipate that this plant will help us save approximately ZAR1.44 million in electricity costs over the next 20 years which can be reinvested in caring for our people, while also contributing significantly to our positioning as a truly sustainable, ecological leader in the region,” says James Sleigh, Managing Director at Camphill Village.

First Solar, a global leader in comprehensive solar energy solutions, sponsored the 300 thin film PV panels that power the facility, in addition to making a financial contribution to the project.

About Clean Power Africa

The award winning 14th African Utility Week and Clean Power Africa conference and expo is taking place at the CTICC in Cape Town from 13-14 May 2014. It is attended by more than 5000 power and water professionals from more than 30 African countries and 70 worldwide, at what is the largest utility gathering of its kind on the continent. Conference presentations, panel discussions, a focus day, workshops, exhibits and site visits will focus on the industry disciplines of metering, renewable energy (hydro, wind, solar), water, large power users, investment and finance, transmission & distribution, smart grids and generation.

On the expo floor, free workshops on energy & water efficiency as well as renewable energy will be presented by the South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre (SARETEC) and the Southern Africa Association for Energy Efficiency (SAEE).

Clean and green site visits

Two of the site visits at the event are dedicated to clean energy success stories in the Western Cape, including the GlaxoSmithKline Factory that has reduced CO2 emissions by 7.5% and increased production by 5.2% through changing its workforce’s habits, work areas and production models and investing in a 80kWp solar PV array and solar hot water systems.  The Hotel Verde has had the advantage of being built with photovoltaic panels, wind turbines, geothermal loops, grey water recycling and rain water harvesting from the start. 

The Mariendahl Experimental Wind Farm will also be visited – it has two 15kw wind turbines installed to evaluate wind energy technology from the turbine to the connection with the power network.  The Villiera Wine Farm will showcase its photovoltaic installations, which are the largest private installations in Southern Africa.


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