South Africa’s most famous holiday resort, Sun City in the North West Province, has taken its name to heart and installed a R16-million solar plant to reduce electricity consumption from the national grid.Located along the border of the Pilanesberg National Park, with many sunny days throughout the year, the grid-tied solar photovoltaic system rated at 1.4megawatts peak of installed capacity tying in at the Sun Central entertainment centre for use around Sun City. The system constitutes 2584 560W monocrystalline solar PV modules installed on the roof of the Sun City hotel, said TM Lesetla, National Energy Engineer at Tsebo Energy Solutions who installed the system. “These panels will be married into Sun City’s internal electrical network to feed the power produced on the roof to the points of delivery. Sun City is like a little town on its own and the solar capacity is part of the energy mix.” The installed plant will displace an equivalent of 2,367,571kWh per annum, with the highest levels of energy production expected in nine out of the 12 months.
“This is an equivalent of what 329 average-sized South African households consume over a year. On good sunshine days, which will be most days, the facility will free up an equivalent of 14% of Sun City’s electrical demand from the national utility supplier Eskom, which will be to the benefit of the grid in the vicinity, and by extension local communities that feed off the same supply,” said Sun City General Manager, Brett Hoppé.From a sustainability perspective, the solar plant will see Sun City will reduce its annual CO2 equivalent emissions by an estimated 2,510 tons per annum, a positive contribution to mitigate against climate change into the future. “This is one of the many initiatives that Sun City in particular, and Sun international, are rolling out to reduce energy use both from a supply and demand perspective. Efficient lighting, HVAC retrofits and reconfigurations, water-heating and a gradual move to renewables all form part of the plan,” said Hoppé. “Sun International’s sustainability approach ensures we continue to meet our vision of providing memorable experiences for our guests, providing employment for our people, delivering superior shareholder returns, creating genuine value for the communities in which we operate and making sure we reduce our environmental footprint at the same time.” The investment will pay for itself within five years, driven by above-average annual electricity price escalations. The plant has an expected lifespan of beyond 25 years when coupled with a well-planned preventative maintenance regime.