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Solar makes cents, and Boschendal becomes a significant producer

About two years ago, the V&A Waterfront commissioned 4,207 solar panels (7,000m²) installed on the roofs of the main Waterfront buildings, with a total electrical output of 1,093.8 kWp at a cost of R20 million.  It conserves about 1,721,956 kWh annually, significantly reducing the Waterfront’s environmental footprint.  At the same time, Boschendal commissioned its first, small rooftop solar installation at the Rachelsfontein complex.

Then in October 2017, Robben Island launched its R25 million, 666kWp solar farm supported by 828 kWh battery storage, to reduce reliance of diesel which was shipped in for the island’s generators.  Just based on the cost of fuel savings, the Robben Island installation will pay for itself within five years.  The micro-grid on Robben Island is the largest combined solar and lithium-ion storage micro-grid system in South Africa.

Boschendal solar farm

The business case for solar energy at Boschendal stems from the Estate’s approach to going green and environmental stewardship –- reducing the carbon footprint and reinforcing their commitment to becoming a more environmentally-friendly business.  Of course, return on investment was important too — looking at significant savings on electricity bills in the long term view — as well as energy security.

The farm’s peak electricity use is in summer, when the very large water pumps are used for irrigation and moving water between dams.

Technical specs of the installation.

Phase 1 — 540kWp AC

  • 2000 x 320 Canadian Solar 320W tier 1 modules = 640kWp DC
  • 20 x Fronius Eco 27.0 inverters

Phase 2 — 189kWp AC

  • 700 x 320 Canadian Solar 320W tier 1 modules = 224kWp DC
  • 7 x Fronius Eco 27.0 inverters

Boschendal Solar farmBoschendal solar farm
Fronius inverters at Boschendal

The contractor for the new solar farm was Terra Firma Solutions, which supplied the aerial photos and infographics shown here.   The value-added component and service that TFS provides are:

    • Electricity monitoring system (Copper) across all sites – drives energy efficiency
    • Solar plant cleaning and maintenance
    • Rachelsfontein roof top solar – 150 kWp AC (yield data below)

The projections and first month’s yield of phases 1 and 2 of the new solar farm are shown below.

energy yield new Boschendal solar farm

A smaller solar installation at Rachelsfontein was completed two years ago and provides some insight into the electricity generated.

energy yield rachelsfontein

The main solar farm on Boschendal only started generating electricity from the beginning of December 2017, but the cumulative results for Rachelsfontein and the main solar farm by the end of 2017 are shown below.

Boschendal: cumulative performance

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