Robben Island
Robben Island to develop solar PV pilot project. Pic credit: Cape town.travel

In South Africa, the infamous Robben Island, is taking steps to become greener by developing a solar photovoltaic (PV) pilot project, which will be rolled out over a period of three years.

The South African Department of Tourism is the driver behind a ZAR180 million Tourism Incentive Programme (TIP), within which the renewable project falls, with attempts to increase and sustain tourism in the City of Cape Town.

Tourism Minister, Derek Hanekom, said during his budget speech in March, that Robben Island would soon generate its own power from renewable resources, Engineering News reported.

Robben Island: part of a bigger programme

Hanekom added that the pilot project will contribute to the Department’s roll-out of renewable energy retrofitment to the botanical gardens, South African National Parks (SANParks) facilities and World Heritage Sites in the country, Engineering News reported.

Hanekom said: “The exciting part of the retrofitting programme is that it contributes towards our countrywide effort to reduce electricity demand and to start shifting towards efficient energy use and renewable energy use. It will also include some of our community-based projects, particularly those that don’t have immediate access to the grid.”

The programme will assess the individual needs pertaining to each of these sites and then will begin installing renewable energy systems such as solar PV.

Pilot Sites Department of Tourism chief director of the tourism incentives programme, Bernhard Meyer, told  Engineering News that Robben Island does not receive power from the national grid, but rather generates its own power through expensive diesel units, which burn “thousands of litres of diesel each month to keep the island running”.

Meyer added that:  “The budget for the pilot phase of the retrofitment programme will be about ZAR60-million. The idea is to test it at government facilities and then, depending on the outcome, ramp it up.”

Tender notice

Meer added that a procurement process for the pilot phase will be carried out – a request for information (RFI)  for local renewable manufacturers was put out in July.

“We want to embark on a procurement process for the pilot phase. We don’t have the technical expertise and are looking for technical advisers.

“If we can link our tourism retrofitment to the green economy, we can integrate as much local content as possible in the various renewable energy installations.”

Hanekom added: “With the pressure on the national electricity grid and the critical requirement for energy security in tourism operations, there is an urgent need for the tourism sector to adopt more energy efficient solutions.”

Lessons learned

Despite making technological sense, Hanekom stated that Robben Island will need to install a mini grid of about 500 kW PV to meet its energy needs.

Hanekom concluded: “A 10 kW PV system could save a 15-room guesthouse more than ZAR5,000 a month in energy costs, while a 250-room hotel could save more than ZAR50,000 a month through the installation of a 65 kW PV system.”

 

Home page pic credit: Capetown.gov.za