The construction of the project began in June last year and initial testing completed the same year. The project forms part of the CSIR’s aim to run its Pretoria campus fully on renewable energy and, therefore, move totally off grid.
The PV plant is a single axis tracker and can rotate the PV modules to track the path of the sun thus enabling it to yield more than 20% of additional solar energy a year than a similarly sized fixed ground-mounted PV plant.
Locally-based renewable-energy services and solutions provider juwi Renewable Energy spearheaded the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) of the R10.7-million PV plant.
Juwi Managing Director Austin says that this is a pioneering project for the company and will set the benchmark for distributed renewable energy in South Africa.
“By pushing the market towards the lowest cost per kilowatt-hour offered over the project’s full lifetime, the CSIR demonstrates that it is possible for public entities to procure smaller- scale renewable-energy facilities at rates that undercut traditional grid-sourced electricity tariffs,” says Austin.
He adds that the cost of electricity has been made favorable by the project therefore enabling juwi to achieve a cost of 83c/kWh over the lifetime of the new PV solar facility using the CSIR’s levelized cost of electricity model.
The solar plant is set to generate more than 3.5-million kilowatt-hours in the first three years and according to Austin, the initiative will also enable the CSIR’s Pretoria campus to become an effective small-scale producer of its own electricity.
The company offers EPC services and project development, as well as products and solutions supporting the transition to sustainable energy sources. Its vision is to achieve 100% renewable energy and its focus is to work together to implement renewable-energy projects economically and reliably.