The 1.2MW Black River Park Solar Project has become the largest integrated PV plant in Africa, and the first to legally transmit electricity back into the City of Cape Town’s electrical distribution network.
The total project size of 1.2MW makes it one of the world’s largest roof mounted solar PV systems on the continent, with the capacity to generate just under 2 million kWh annually from approximately 5,500 modules.
Joubert Rabie, developer and co-shareholder in Black River Park says, “Black River Park is aiming to become the first choice office park for tenants who are striving to operate businesses that are environmentally aware. The solar installation contributes very significantly towards the many other greening initiatives we have on site, to identify but a few, a car-pooling network, reverse osmosis plant for landscaping irrigation, on-site sorting for recycling.”
The presence of the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA), who are one of the tenants of the 74,000 square metre office park, puts into action the green lease – an agreement between Black River Park and GBCSA, between landlord and tenant to ensure the operational effectiveness of the building in line with environmentally friendly principles.
“Our green lease outlined both tenant and landlord commitments, agreeing to take responsibility for sustainability and environmental matters under our respective control. Green building inspires innovation. Building resource-efficient structures that are environmentally-sustainable and cost-effective challenges project teams and developers to push the boundaries, in the process setting new benchmarks for their peers and taking the green building movement to new levels – Black River Park management and SOLA Future have risen to that challenge,” said Jarrod Lewin, GBCSA business development manager.
The second phase of the project comprises 500kW adds to the initial 700kW, operating since August 2013.
“The approval from the City of Cape Town marks a considerable breakthrough in the pursuit of electricity users who invest in independent power production to sell energy back to the distributors during periods where it is not needed on site,” says Chris Haw, Managing Director of SOLA Future Energy, and Spokesperson for the South African PV Industry Association (SAPVIA).
The buy-back rate has been proposed at 49.72c/kWh, which is lower than the rate at which the office park buys electricity from the municipality.
“Apart from the savings generated, the solar system attracts tenants to the office park that are placing increasing importance on being able to report sustainable business practices to their shareholders,” according to a SOLA Future Energy press release.