George Municipality’s facilities plan for renewable energy technology to ensure sustainability

The George Municipality has embarked on installing Photovoltaic (PV) solar plants projects in its facilities and buildings to reduce Energy Consumption from Eskom and thereby cutting down on electricity costs and increasing sustainability.

Renewable Energy Projects, Director Bongani Mandla

The seven envisaged projects are to be rolled in three years out to the following plants and buildings: 

  • 400 kilowatt peak (kWp) PV at the Outeniqua wastewater treatment facility
  • 500 kWp at the PV Gwaing Wastewater treatment facility
  • 400 kWp PV plant at the Denneoord New Water Works facility
  • 20 kWp PV + 40-kilowatt hour (kWh) battery storage for the Electrotechnical Services building
  • 4 kWp PV + 10 kWh battery storage for the Tourism building
  • 1 kWp PV + 5 kWh battery storage for Schaapkop substation
  • 1 MWp solar farm (ERF464 – Municipal land) 
  • 8-9 MWp bigger solar farm (location still to be finalised) 

Some of these projects are subject to feasibility studies during the detailed design process, funding, and various other processes such as Environmental authorisations. However, implementation to some is imminent. Project on the Outeniqua wastewater treatment facility, Gwaing wastewater facility, battery storage for the Electrotechnical Services building, Tourism and Schaapkop PV plants will be implemented in the 2022/23 financial year. The rest of the plants are still in the environmental approval phase and will be implemented in the 2023/24 financial year. These projects will be funded from various streams, these streams include the municipal own funding, External Loan as well as grant funding where applicable. 

Benefits to the municipality and customers

According to the director for electro-technical services, Mr Bongani Mandla, the successful implementation of these PV solar plant projects will be beneficial to both, the Municipality, and the consumer. “The PV Solar project for the Municipal Facilities are aimed at reducing the load demand of the facilities and municipal offices, and therefore cutting the cost of electricity purchased from Eskom. Additionally, it is to ensure that the facilities and office buildings meet their carbon emission reduction targets by powering most of their loads with energy generated from a clean and renewable source,” Mandla said. “Also, for the municipality to play its part in the development of energy industry to create jobs and diversify the economy.”

“The battery storage project, on the other side, will also serve to ensure that service delivery remains uninterrupted at some municipal offices during power outages,” Mandla added.

The first completed Solar project ‘is yielding positive results’

Portfolio Councillor for Electrotechnical Services, Nosicelo Mbete confirmed that a footprint of PV solar plant installation in one of the municipal properties has already been created. “The 300 Kilo Watt peak solar plant at the Civic Centre parking lot was the first solar project to be completed and was commissioned last year September,” she said.

Cllr Mbete says the solar plant installed at the Civic Centre parking lot is already yielding positive results. “The energy produced from the system supplies the Civic building and the excess flows into the grid and supplies the neighbouring houses. The plant produces on average, 41 500 kilo Watt hours (kWh) of energy a month, totalling an average of 500 000 kWh of energy per year. The payback period is in the order of seven (7) years, and the plant has an estimated operational lifetime of 25 years. The total savings in carbon dioxide emissions would be in the region of 9027 tonnes of CO2 over the plant’s lifetime,” Cllr. Mbete added.

Portfolio Councillor for Electrotechnical Services, Nosicelo Mbete

Renewable Energy Policy in place

“We have recently approved a policy on Renewable Energy Policy that essentially facilitates the commitment of George to a resilient, integrated municipal energy system with a diversified energy mix to provide the least-cost, reliable energy for our residents and businesses,” said the Executive Mayor of George, Ald Leon van Wyk.

“Our immediate priority is the electricity sector where renewable technologies at different scales can be deployed on-site, or electricity wheeled across the grid and aggregated to offer a range of immediate options to all customers over time,” Mayor van Wyk added. 

“It is critical that George can integrate more renewable energy to keep electricity prices down to aid the provision of low-cost energy to residents and businesses to drive economic growth and job creation,” Ald van Wyk concluded.

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