Solar power at port depot pays off for Transnet

The Port Elizabeth Harbour. File picture
The Port Elizabeth Harbour. File picture
Image: Deneesha Pillay

A pilot solar power project has paved the way for a greener future at the Port Elizabeth Harbour, with Transnet announcing plans to expand its solar energy supply by year-end.

Port manager Rajesh Dana said the success of the panels, which were installed at the Transnet National Ports Authority civil engineering depot late last year, had led to further plans to generate solar power for the harbour.

The system consists of 42 photovoltaic panels and a 20kWp 3-phase inverter.

“The 13.5kWp system generates energy according to the available radiation.

On average, it is 1 800 kWh over a month – [which] is the equivalent of the energy consumed by six small households in South Africa,” Dana said.
The energy generated is consumed mainly by light equipment, appliances and lighting. This, though, is only a portion of the depot’s monthly electricity needs.

“The panels contribute 25% to [its] electricity consumption.”

Aside from the environmental benefits, the panels – installed at a cost of R240 000 – have brought savings to the port.

“The monthly savings vary from R2 000 to R2 700, depending on the generation for the month,” Dana said.

Though the port had no plans to go off the municipal grid fully, he said officials had plans for a larger solar panel project later in the year.

“We’ll soon be going out to market for an installation exceeding 500kWp of renewable energy generation.

“TNPA aims to go to market around mid-year, subject to internal processes, governance and specifications being signed off.”