African Renewable Energy Company Installs First Commercial Floating Solar Farm in Africa at Marlenique Farm
From the ongoing issues at Eskom to the chemicals being sprayed and the high energy needs of farms, the agricultural sector is looking to become more financially and environmentally sustainable through green energy solutions.
On 1 March 2019, media personnel as well as individuals from trade and industry joined together at Marlenique farm to hear from Minister of Economic Opportunities Beverley Schafer, CEO of New South Energy (NSE) David Masureik, and Financial Director of Boplaas 1743 Carl van der Merwe.
NSE recently installed a state of the art microgrid solution at Marlenique, a farm located just outside Franschoek on the famous R45 (Drakenstein Municipality). The farm produces export quality fruit as well as runs an award-winning wedding and function venue.
Due to rising energy prices and a high energy demand from its cold storage, irrigation and venue facilities, a microgrid system provided the best long-term solution for the farm. This decision was also made from taking in to consideration the input costs, power reliability and sustainability as key contributing factors towards the success of the business.
AFRICA’S FIRST COMMERCIAL FLOATING SOLAR FARM
The floating solar system is the first commercially operational system to be installed in Africa and, at 60 kWp, it is by far the largest.
The solution includes:
An internal AC reticulation upgrade and consolidation of connection points
- The installation of a backup generator to run the internal grid in the event of power outages
- 534 kWp ground mounted solar system to supply renewable energy through the day
- a 60 kWp floating solar system for the farms dam to supply renewable energy through the day as well as minimize land usage and reduce evaporation on the dam
- Provision for infrastructure to allow for battery system to be included during phase two to take the site completely off-grid
THE FLOATING SOLAR PIONEER
Ciel & Terre have been developing large scale solar power plants for commercial, government, government and non-profit institutions since 2006. With a recognized know-how in the integration of photo-voltaic power plants in buildings on the ground, as well as sustained efforts in research and development, Ciel & Terre provides, since 2011, innovative floating solar solutions with the Hydrello system, a market to which they have been completely devoted since 2013.
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.” He explains, “upgrading a reservoir with FPV saves space, limits evaporation and allows on-site energy generation, which makes floating solar a perfect solution to the region’s high land usage, water stress and unstable electrical supply. South Africa is a forerunner country in the continent. Our technology has great potential there, and we hope this initiative will pave the way to future FPV projects across the country and Africa.”
Floating Solar (Pty) Ltd, the distributors for the Ciel & Terre floating solar system in South Africa, was established in 2017 as a Floating Solar PV equipment provider and project developer.
On the completion of the system, their representative Peter Varndell says, “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. The additional benefit of reducing evaporation will prove to be an attractive prospect in this water-stressed region and we look forward to many more successful projects with New Southern Energy.”
THE INITIAL DRIVERS FOR THE SYSTEM
As the oldest family business in South Africa, sustainability is key to survive rising costs and high energy needs. The question Boplaas asked themselves was “how can we keep the business running for another 10+ generations?” One of the factors is to farm greener and to secure their power supply for future farming. Increasing needs for water and irrigation as well as packhouses for rising export demands has inevitably led to their production cost escalating more than their sales revenue per annum. In order to be sustainable both financially and environmentally, the company realised they had to push their running costs. Having a state-of-the-art solar system has guaranteed them fixed energy costs for the next 25 plus years. Van der Merwe says of the investment, “it was a better decision than planting a new orchard!”
On his expectations of the solar system Van der Merve says, “it will reduce our carbon footprint by more than 50%”. He adds, “Marlenique farm is the highest energy user in our portfolio. We are aiming to be 100% green through solar energy solutions across our entire portfolio in the near future. Anyone is welcome to try to take us to any solar plant better built than the one on Marlenique. I don’t think it is possible because this one is world class standard.”
Minister of Economic Opportunities also spoke today saying, “it is incredibly exciting for me, as the Minister of Economic Opportunities, responsible for economic development and tourism, and agriculture, to see a business like Marlenique, which creates jobs in the rural economy, investing in the kind of technology that they have, creating a reliable, clean energy source. As the Western Cape Government, we have been encouraging businesses to invest in solar PV and alternative energy sources as a way to build resilience and protect the economy against shocks like power outages and water shortages. We thank Marlenique for seeing the bigger picture, for answering the Western Cape government’s call to invest in resilience, and for finding ways to make their business more sustainable and more profitable.”
In addition, NSE CEO David Masureik commended Boplaas for being innovators in the agricultural sector, adding, “I would also like to thank governments interest in solutions that will inevitably encourage the sector to thrive. Without the support and encouragement from national and local government for industry to become more sustainable and independent in terms of power solutions, our business would not exist. We are honoured to take part in positive change happening across the public and private sector.”
The project was financed through Nedbank Agriculture with the savings from the system allowing the farm to operate cash-flow positive from day one, while paying the asset off over 10 years. With a long-lasting life-space the benefits of the system will be passed on for generations to come.
New Southern Energy is a leading South African-based, full-service renewable energy provider for distributed energy projects throughout Africa. With extensive experience in the renewable energy sector, NSE has the technical and professional skills required to implement energy projects across Africa.
About Boplaas 1743
Established in 1743, Boplaas is home to more than quality export fruit and old-fashioned values. As the oldest family business in South Africa, they have stood the test of time and offer the knowledge and dedication of an unbroken lineage of 10 generations of farmers on beautiful, fertile, South African land.
Issued by: Marketing Department, New Southern Energy
Media enquiries: Christina Masureik, Head of Marketing for New Southern Energy
Cell: 082 652 2252, Email: [email protected]