Plattekloof Village Shopping centre, owned by Pick n Pay Retailers, has recently bought into a sunny solution: a 944 kWp solar system on its roof, which is expected to generate 1.4 million kWh of clean electricity per year. The project was built and is owned by SOLA.
“South African shopping centres are tapping into the value of solar because they use the most electricity during the day – when a solar PV system can generate the most power,” says Nick Prinsloo, Chief Project Manager at SOLA.
The system at Plattekloof Village Shopping centre consists of over 2600 solar panels and will save around 873 tons of Carbon Emissions equivalents per year. This is about the same as 1500 houses going off the grid for a year.
Plattekloof Village represents a growing trend of shopping centres choosing to use solar PV to supplement their electricity supply. With ample roof space and large daily energy usage, they are a perfect case study for the benefits of distributed commercial solar power usage.
In recent years, Eskom’s electricity provision has been marred by load shedding, which has had an enormous effect on the economy and comes at a huge cost. In fact, the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) published a report saying load shedding in 2008 had cost the economy an estimated R50 billion. Despite this, Mall development in South Africa is on the rise, according to the South African Council of Shopping Centres (SACSC), and malls are increasingly relying on purchasing electricity independently.
Prinsloo, who has been involved in implementing solar PV projects for retail centres of varying sizes for 6 years, explains that many malls are making the switch to solar, in order to cut down on carbon emissions and provide shoppers with a more reliable experience.
The solar system at Plattekloof Village itself is owned and maintained by SOLA and the shopping centre merely pays for the electricity that the system generates through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). This will allow the clean energy generated by the solar panels to supplement the centre’s reliance on the grid, reducing the environmental impact of the centre and stabilising power supply.
A system designed especially for Plattekloof Village
Due to the specifications of the mall’s roof, the solar PV system design had to be carefully thought out, with every inch of suitable roof space being used for the solar panels. The solar system was built over 10 weeks, with the construction team using safety lines on the roof to ensure crew safety whilst building the system.
The centre’s solar system also has careful and safe integration into the City of Cape Town’s electricity grid. The solar system includes a grid monitoring device that is integrated into the main breakers of the PV system, that analyses the grid for frequency, voltage, phase shifts and grid presence, to allow for the solar system to integrate safely with the City’s grid infrastructure.
Going forward, Plattekloof Village Shopping Centre will use its solar PV system to reduce its environmental impact. With climate change rapidly accelerating worldwide, it is a commitment that more shopping centres should aspire to.