The Wonderpark Shopping Centre in Pretoria, South Africa. Pic credit: SA commercial prop news
Pic credit: malls guide
The Wonderpark Shopping Centre will be installed with five generators in by mid-August. Pic credit: malls guide

In South Africa, the Wonderpark Shopping Centre in Pretoria will receive an investment of ZAR17.6 million ($1 million) from property fund Emira for the installation of five generators to mitigate the effects of load shedding.

The generators will be connected by mid-August to the shopping centre’s substations, providing enough power to run all the retailers, which did not previously have their own generators, the Business Report reported on Wednesday.

Retail buildings turn to generators

The move to install back-up generators and alternative power sources has been taken up by various retail property owners across the country.

Earlier this year, Tower Property Fund confirmed that its Cape Quarter property in Cape Town, was installed with a state of the art solar photovoltaic power system in attempts to reduce energy costs.

According to the Business Report, retail property fund Hyprop said that they would be installing additional generators at its shopping centres that did not have full electricity back-up in response to frequent power cuts to ensure uninterrupted trading.

Retail and leisure centre Clearwater Mall has now tripled its solar photovoltaic capacity from 500kWh to 1,600kWh in around eight months, which according to global solar inverter manufacturer KACO new energy, is now operating the country’s largest solar photovoltaic rooftop installation.

Located in Strubens Valley in Johannesburg, the mall is self-generating nearly a third of its 5MW installed capacity through the total of 29 installed Powador 60.0 TL3 solar inverters.

SA Property Owners Association

In November 2014, the SA Property Owners Association commissioned and published a report, which indicated that electricity was the biggest cost as a proportion of total operating costs of property owners at 32% followed by rates and taxes (21%) and management costs (8%), said the Business Report.

James Templeton, chief executive of Emira, said that the South African state-owned power utility Eskom was unable to guarantee the supply of electricity to businesses. He added that it was important to consider alternative power solutions to ensure that businesses are able to operate despite load shedding.

Templeton said: “It looks like load shedding is going to be a reality for the next couple of years at least. Unfortunately, it has become the norm.”

Effects of load shedding

Templeton said that the mall was scheduled for load shedding at its busiest times 4pm to 6:30pm and should it move to stage 3 then the power would be out from 8am to 10:30am.

Despite not having access to basic items such as lighting, damage is caused to the mall’s infrastructure as a result of the electricity being switched on and off as well as increasing security risks.

Improving energy security

In April, the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) and South African Property Owners’ Association (SAPOA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together to improve energy security through solar photovoltaic power.

Commenting on the MoU, Neil Gopal CEO of SAPOA said: “Given the current energy constraints in the country, we welcome this and any such initiatives to address the challenges facing South Africa.”

Moeketsi Thobela CEO of SAPVIA added: “This builds on a number of initiatives that have seen embedded PV generation capacity increase rapidly from 10MW to more than 30MW.

“The synergies represented by this agreement are enormous, including the fact that both the [energy] demand from SAPOA members’ property portfolios and solar PV generation tend to peak during the day.”