NMU on track with so­lar farm

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - News - Siyabonga Se­sant se­sant@ti­soblack­star.co.za

Con­struc­tion of an R18m so­lar farm at Nel­son Man­dela Univer­sity (NMU) is well un­der way with fenc­ing that will sur­round the mega-project more than halfway assembled.

When fully func­tional, the green power plant is pro­jected to pro­vide at least 10% of NMU’s south cam­pus’ elec­tric­ity re­quire­ments, the univer­sity’s sus­tain­abil­ity en­gi­neer, An­dré He­fer, said.

He said the only other so­lar in­stal­la­tion equal in mag­ni­tude in the Bay was the one­megawatt in­stal­la­tion at Volk­swa­gen.

The project is ex­pected to be com­pleted by Fe­bru­ary.

He­fer said the pho­to­voltaic pan­els would go up fol­low­ing the con­struc­tion of the ba­sis and sup­port­ing struc­tures in about two weeks’ time, af­ter the fenc­ing was com­plete.

“Apart from the ob­vi­ous huge fi­nan­cial ben­e­fits to the univer­sity, the so­lar farm will also serve as a tech­nol­ogy park to aca­demic units for tech­nol­ogy and other re­search, an­other big ad­van­tage.”

He said while the so­lar farm was per­fectly lo­cated to sig­nal the univer­sity’s in­tent to tackle sus­tain­abil­ity head-on, there were prac­ti­cal rea­sons for its cen­tral positioning.

“One of the most in­flu­en­tial rea­sons is its prox­im­ity to the ex­ist­ing sub­sta­tion for the con­nec­tion to our in­ter­nal elec­tric­ity grid.

“This would not be fea­si­ble if it were too far away.

“The other rea­son is that all en­vi­ron­men­tal con­sid­er­a­tions were taken into ac­count, and no en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact as­sess­ment was re­quired for this devel­op­ment.”

The new plant, which is one of many on-cam­pus sus­tain­abil­ity ini­tia­tives, is the re­sult of a part­ner­ship be­tween the univer­sity and re­new­able en­er­gies com­pany Ta­sol So­lar.

Es­sen­tially, the univer­sity has given Ta­sol So­lar the piece of land, on which it will in­stall and main­tain the plant for 10 years, sell­ing the en­ergy back to the univer­sity.

At the 10-year mark, the univer­sity will take own­er­ship of the pho­to­voltaic power plant and will no longer have to buy the elec­tric­ity pro­duced.

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