TECHNOLOGY: Biggest Roof-Mounted Solar Energy Project
Recent Western Cape Business News
Western Cape-based alternative energy provider, enerGworx is implementing an expansive solar energy project for Villiera Wines in Stellenbosch.
The 539 solar modules installed across three of the Cellar’s roofs represent the largest roof-mounted solar project in South Africa. The panels will generate enough energy to power the Winery’s entire daytime requirement out of harvest time, providing electricity to its staff housing, offices, kitchens, processing and bottling facilities, cellars and even its cooling and irrigation systems. The capacity available equates to around 726 kWh per day. To put this in perspective, an average family of four consumes in the region of just 30 to 35 kWh per day.
Villiera is just one of the many local wineries to join the green movement. This forward-thinking Winery has always sought out sustainable initiatives to lessen its impact on the environment. By ensuring that its green strategies also make good economic sense, it keeps itself affordable both on local shelves and in the export market. Aggressive water management, natural pest controls, biodiversity initiatives and a strong culture of recycling have been the forerunners to its latest project - an estate-wide alternative energy solution, outfitted entirely by homegrown solutions provider, enerGworx, using locally designed and manufactured products.
“Solar energy is the perfect alternative solution in our climate. Not only do we have some of the sunniest weather in the world, but the intensity of our sunlight is greater, with each square metre of radiation being able to generate almost twice the kWh in comparison to some European countries,” elaborates enerGworx Managing Director, André Potgieter. “In a country where fragmented infrastructure can also pose a challenge, solar solutions provide access to renewable and sustainable energy source, at a fraction of the cost, where it is most needed.” To help make solar power even more accessible, enerGworx will be introducing financing options for its installations.
Villiera Director, Simon Grier, is extremely impressed with the project. “enerGworx came to us with a complete end-to-end solution that is an ideal fit for our business. They scoped and designed the implementation, acquired all the necessary legislative compliancy, and then undertook the procurement, installation, and commissioning. The entire project has been completed in just 8 weeks with no interruption to our existing operations.”
The project at Villiera is also creating interest around the effectiveness of solar energy, particularly in a manufacturing environment. Potgieter points out that significant Eskom rate hikes are predicted and each successive increase is eating into business profits. “This is especially critical in those sectors, like Agriculture, that are energy intensive. Investing in a solar solution can empower an enterprise to secure its profits in the long term, while providing a clean, renewable source of power.”
Villiera is a case in point. The winery expects to see the project pay for itself within the next six years thanks to the savings realised. With a life expectancy in excess of 50 years for the newly installed panels, the farm’s children, who have been observing the installation with great interest, will be benefiting from this inexpensive, sustainable energy source for a long time to come.
The project represents a commitment to even greener operations at Villiera. “All our staff have been educated about the project and its significance,” says Grier. “One of the greatest benefits for us is the enhanced awareness that it has created. We now have a new perspective on how we use our energy and we are now making a conscious effort to conserve this resource even further. It just feels like the right thing to do.”
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