NMU on track with solar farm
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.