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The Ekurhuleni MetropolitanMunicapilityhas launched the only solar power plant of its type in the country at the OR Tambo Precinct. This is good news, especially with the current limited supply of electricity while demand continues to increase. The city’s executive mayor, MondliGungubele and Aubrey Nxumalo, member of the mayoral committee on water and energy, unveiled a R8.4 million solar power plant.

The plant will produce about 200 kW of electricity through 860 PV (photovoltaic) solar panels on 2500 square metresof land. This energy is enough to power about 133 low-cost houses.

Gungubele speaking at the launch said the exciting project signals greater things to come from the city as it strives to be a developmental city which is smart and creative.

“We are committed to promote the up-take of renewable energy as this will enhance our drive to become a progressive low-, and carbon-friendly city. This will go a long way in relieving the surging costs of electricity for the poor.”

The plant is unique in that it will not stop producing power on days without sunshine. Its modules also use the diffused parts of light in cloudy weather.

“The promotion of a low-, and carbon-friendly city is in line with the metro’s energy strategy that identifies proactive promotion of green power as key for creating a sustainable future for the municipality,” said Nxumalo.

Solar energy does not involve fuels, waste, or pollution, thereby proving not to be harmful to the environment. The plant has a life span of 20 to 25 or more if properly maintained.

The solar plant is made up of solar panels mounted on a support steel structures, which are connected together in strings. All solar panels connected together are called a solar generator or plant. An inverter (located in the storage house) convertsthe direct electricity current generated by the solar generator into an alternating current that is fed into the municipality/Eskom grid. Maintenance is simple and includes the manual cleaning of panels from rain water and dust.

The plant is located in the R140 million OR Tambo Precinct which is set to put the City on the map for the environmentally friendly and benchmark technologies, which were used in the construction of the facility, including specialised techniques like rammed earth, straw-bale and cob-wall construction, green roof technology and thermal mass earth flooring.

The development boasts the following facilities: environmental centre for education; the OR Tambo Narrative Centre which houses the new Oliver Tambo exhibition; a multi-purpose arts and crafts workshops and an outdoor amphitheatrefor performing artists.

Solar panels at the R8.4 million solar plant at OR Tambo which is capable of generating power from the sun to households. It is the first of its kind in the country.

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