Of­fice park claims its place in the sun

Black River site be­gins work to get ten­ants off the grid with huge so­lar en­ergy sys­tem

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PROPERTY -

THE l argest roof- mounted so­lar pho­to­voltaic sys­tem in south­ern Africa is be­ing in­stalled at the Black River Of­fice Park in Ob­ser­va­tory, Cape Town.

Phase one of the in­stal­la­tion is be­ing com­pleted and is big­ger than any other sim­i­lar power sys­tem in south­ern Africa.

By the time the sec­ond phase is in­stalled at the end of the year, it will be dou­ble the area, other than be­ing one of t he most t e c hnolo g i c a l l y ad­vanced sys­tems in the world.

The first phase con­sists of 2 875 panels. A fur­ther 2 050 panels will be in­stalled in phase two, with the en­tire sys­tem cov­er­ing 8 000m – larger than a rugby field.

Once com­pleted, it will gen­er­ate about 1.9 gi­gawatt (1.9 mil­lion kilo­watt) hours a year, or enough en­ergy to power 1 000 aver­age- s i z ed houses.

The of­fice park sup­ports 5 500 of­fices work­ers over 76 000m ² , which is equiv­a­lent to all the Grade A of­fice space in Clare­mont. The so­lar panel sys­tem will gen­er­ate enough power for ten­ants to run their op­er­a­tions sig­nif­i­cantly us­ing green en­ergy.

Joubert Ra­bie, de­vel­oper and a co-share­holder in Black River Park, said the in­stal­la­tion of the so­lar pho­to­voltaic sys­tem had been planned for some time.

“It makes sense to run an op­er­a­tion that is green and sus­tain­able, not only be­cause of the im­pact it has on the en­vi­ron­ment, but also from a good busi­ness prac­tice point of view. The sys­tem will op­er­ate for a min­i­mum of 25 years, but the in­stal­la­tion costs will be re­couped within the first seven years.”

The sys­tem has been de­signed so that power us­age through­out the park can be mon­i­tored and mi­cro­man­aged. It has built-in power cur­tail­ment de­vices to en­sure that no elec­tric­ity is fed back into the lo­cal grid sys­tem if the en­ergy gen­er­ated at any point ex­ceeds the de­mand.

How­ever, once leg­is­la­tion changes, over week­ends and when power is not needed at Black River Park, the sys­tem will be able to sup­ply power to the grid, and pro­vide standby power in the event of out­ages.

The in­stal­la­tion is also well po­si­tioned to take ad­van­tage of soon-to-be im­ple­mented car­bon tax in South Africa, where the sys­tem could stand to ben­e­fit through the 1 725 tons of car­bon diox­ide saved each year through not re­ly­ing on coal­pro­duced elec­tric­ity, says Ra­bie.

The so­lar pho­to­voltaic in­stal­la­tion was one of the fac­tors taken into con­sid­er­a­tion by the Green Build­ing Coun­cil of South Africa be­fore it moved its of­fices to Black River Park.

“The op­por­tu­nity for ten­ants to be able use green en­ergy and po­ten­tially go of­f­grid means Black River Park meets some of the sus­tain­able cri­te­ria for green build­ing ac­cred­i­ta­tion,” says Brian Wilkin­son, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Green Build­ing Coun­cil of South Africa.

“This is a sig­nif­i­cant of­fer­ing and many in­ter­na­tional branded com­pa­nies are lo­cated at Black River Park. Th­ese in­clude Adi­das, Brand­house, Or­a­cle, Red Bull, AON, RGA in­sur­ance and oth­ers that have cho­sen to align them­selves with in­ter­na­tional best busi­ness prac­tice and sus­tain­abil­ity stan­dards.”

The so­lar pho­to­voltaic sys­tem has been in­stalled by SOLA Fu­ture En­ergy, a di­vi­sion of Aurora Power So­lu­tions. It has been con­structed us­ing state- of- the- art mul­ticrys­talline sil­i­con so­lar pho­to­voltaic mod­ules and has a guar­an­teed en­ergy out­put.

SOLA man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Chris Haw says that panels were placed to max­imise the po­ten­tial en­ergy gen­er­ated.

“The sys­tem has been de­signed to yield the op­ti­mal amount of en­ergy based on the site con­di­tions,” he says.

The Black River Park own­ers say this in­stal­la­tion leads the way in sus­tain­abil­ity and green prac­tice.

“We started with re­cy­cling the old build­ings that form the core of the op­er­a­tion, and now this so­lar panel sys­tem is at the cut­ting edge of green tech­nol­ogy,” says Ra­bie.

“In fu­ture we hope to make this of­fice park the first choice for ten­ants who want sus­tain­able busi­nesses.”

SUN­TRAP: The big­gest roof-mounted so­lar pho­to­voltaic sys­tem in south­ern Africa is be­ing in­stalled at Black River Of­fice Park.

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