Gauteng Business News

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ENERGY: Basil Read Commits to Energy Conservation


Recent Gauteng Business News

Construction firm Basil Read is demonstrating its commitment to energy conservation with the launch of a new solar energy system at its head office in Lillianton, Boksburg. The photovoltaic solar system feeds power into the company’s grid distribution network and provides up to 20% of the head office’s energy requirements, thus reducing its need for energy obtained from fossil fuels.

Covering 85% of the plant department building, the solar array is about 352m² in area and has a peak capacity of 43.2kW. The power is routed to the main distribution board in the basement of the office building.

The system was designed and installed by power solutions firm The Power Company and director Jon Adams says that Basil Read has been innovative and forward thinking with its investment in the solar system.

“The reality is that all businesses have an impact on the environment, whether they are large manufacturing concerns with significant electricity requirements, or small businesses with lower electricity demands or domestic users. The mere fact that goods are being transported via vehicles, computers being used and office lighting utilised, for example, means that there is an environmental consequence to doing business,” says Adams.

“Therefore, what is important about Basil Read’s installation of solar power is that they have made the commitment to reduce their impact on the environment by contributing to energy conservation and a reduction in green house gases.”

The system was commissioned in October 2009 at a cost exceeding R2-million and it is expected that as a result of the power cost savings, the solar system will deliver a return on investment within the next five to seven years.

Basil Read group senior environmental officer Andrew Pearson says the solar panel installation forms part of the company’s efforts to become more environmentally-responsible, and the project is in line with its policy commitment to reduce pollution.

“As a company we felt it was imperative to take visible and tangible action with regards to energy conservation. The solar panels are a reflection of our intention to continually reduce our impact on the environment. This sends the message to our staff and all visitors to the head office that we are serious about doing our part to protect the planet,” says Pearson.

In terms of a calculation conducted on the expected peak sun hours in the Boksburg area, the annual amount of power that will be generated from the installed 43.2kw system amounts to 99MWh, although meteorological conditions will affect the power production from time to time.

In order for the same quantity of energy to be generated using coal-fired electricity, it would require 55.5t of coal and 142.5 kiloliters of water and result in carbon dioxide emissions of 99 tons, sulphur dioxide emissions of 861 kg and nitrogen oxide emissions of 435 kg.

“The fact that we no longer need to rely on coal-fired electricity for all our energy needs equates to a significant saving for the environment and we are proud to be making a difference,” says Pearson.

The system is linked to software which in turns sends data to a display in the building’s reception area, which provides real time information on the amount of power being generated by the system, the total amount of electricity generated since installation, as well as how much carbon dioxide has been displaced since the beginning of the project was commissioned.

Adams comments that the installation at Basil Read is in line with the government’s strategy of installing 10 000 GWh of renewable energy capacity by 2013.

“Once government has finalised the legislation surrounding independent power producers and the related power purchase agreements, there is great potential for the growth in use of solar powered systems, both by businesses and private residences,” says Adams.

“With the rising cost of electricity, there is an incentive for businesses to generate their own power, and they even sell surplus power back to Eskom. Solar power is the obvious choice as it is clean, quiet, non-polluting energy delivered free of charge from the sun.”

Figures from the Department of Minerals and Energy indicate that most areas in South Africa average more than 2 500 hours of sunshine a year, and average solar-radiation levels range between 4.5 and 6.5kWh/m² in one day.

The annual 24-hour global solar radiation average is about 220 W/m² for South Africa, compared with about 150 W/m² for parts of the US, and about 100 W/m² for Europe and the UK, making South Africa’s local resource one of the highest in the world.

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