George powers up new solar plant

The photovoltaic panels are located on top of the parking bays at the George municipality's main building
CATCHING RAYS: The photovoltaic panels are located on top of the parking bays at the George municipality's main building
Image: SUPPLIED

George municipality has become a shining light for renewable energy.

George municipality spokesperson Athane Scholtz said on Tuesday that the local authority’s main building would now mostly be powered by solar energy following the activation of a 300 kilowatt solar-powered plant in the adjacent car park.

She said the project had been funded by the national department of energy and facilitated by the municipality’s electrotechnical directorate.

“The solar plant consists of 692 photovoltaic panels installed on top of the roofs of the parking bays — not only generating enough power to electrify the main building and civic centre, but also providing shade and protection for municipal vehicles.

The energy generated feeds directly into the municipal buildings’ main low voltage distribution boards.

“Any excess power not used by the main buildings and civic centre is exported to the grid.

“From there it feeds into neighbouring municipal buildings, such as the housing offices, as well as the park in front of the civic centre in York Street.”

Scholtz said solar power not used by the municipality was channelled back into the city’s grid.

“The grid is then credited against the municipality’s Eskom account, according to a special tariff.

“During the night and on cloudy days, the municipality uses the accumulated credit and pays for electricity thereafter.

“It is expected that 500,000kW/h of energy will be produced per year and the installation should pay itself off within seven years.”

She said the municipality also earned “green points” for meeting carbon emission reduction targets.

“The plant will save about 9,027 tonnes of carbon dioxide over its 25-year lifetime.”

Municipal manager Dr Michele Gratz said the municipality was proud to be among the first local authorities in the Western Cape to generate electricity for its own buildings.

“This kind of project ultimately benefits the people of George because it saves money, and promotes innovation and good environmental practices.

“We thank national government for supporting us in the pursuit of energy saving across as many platforms as possible.

“The municipality continues to investigate various types of alternative energy sources to provide sustainable solutions for the city,” Gratz said.

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