Robben Island goes green
The launch of a R25 million solarpowered mini-grid plant at Robben Island is the first step towards turning the world heritage site green.
This is according to Tourism Minister Tokozile Xasa who recently unveiled the solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant, which has the capacity to generate 666.4 kilo Watt peak (kWp) of clean energy, reducing the island's reliance on the existing diesel generating system.
The integrated system carries the entire daytime electricity load and prioritises solar PV energy generation, which is supported by an 828 kilo Watt hours (kWh) battery storage – enabling the use of solar energy on cloudy days and at night.
“This project is the first step in a longer term initiative of greening the island and discussions are already underway with the management of Robben Island Museum on the implementation of a range of additional energy efficiency projects,” she said.
Robben Island was selected as one of the eight government-owned attractions in the pilot initiative to retrofit tourism facilities with solar PV energy generating systems.
The other seven sites include the Hantam, Karoo Desert, Free State National Botanical Gardens, the Skukuza and Lower Sabie rest camps as well as the Tshokwane and Nkuhlu picnic sites in Kruger National Park.
The renewable energy system means that the Robben Island Museum will not only become a more competitive and sustainable tourism attraction, but will also save a significant amount in operational costs.
“It is estimated that the system will reduce the use of diesel generators by almost 45 percent, which means that the annual diesel usage will drop from around 619 000 litres to
344 000 litres, saving the island about 275 000 litres of diesel per annum.
“What we are therefore looking at is that this project will save the fiscus an estimated amount of almost R5 million per annum, which means that this project will pay itself within five years,” she said.