Rooftop solar
The solar PV energy harvesting system is expected to come online next week

On Tuesday, South African-based agribusiness BKB announced the installation of a ZAR8 million ($667,244) roof-mounted solar photovoltaic (PV) energy harvesting system, which is expected to come online next week. The system will provide clean energy and reduce the carbon footprint of the South African wool and mohair industry.

Based in Nelson Mandela Bay, the agribusiness claims this solar project, which is expected to generate 40% of the facility’s power needs, is going to be one of the biggest solar power installation projects in South Africa, the Western Cape Business News reported.

Powering the wool and mohair industry

The South African wool and mohair industry exports two thirds of the country’s wool clip and more than 35% of the country’s mohair clip, according to BKB.

The solar system which will cover a surface area of 3,400m2, will generate solar power for harvest and then introduce solar energy into its handling and shipping facility in Port Elizabeth.

The solar PV systems are being installed on the roofs of the agribusinesses warehouse buildings which house classing, handling and pressing facilities. The pitched roof sections are being retrofitted with an estimated 4,680 solar PV panels, each with a 100W generation capacity.

The bigger picture

BKB plans to recoup the project’s investment costs over a 10-year period through energy savings of approximately ZAR850, 000 ($70,894) per annum.

BKB head of corporate marketing and public relations Jacobus le Roux told the Western Cape Business News: “The clean energy supply chain management innovations through our solar PV system will offset the carbon footprint of wool and mohair processed and exported from our facilities. This will enhance the eco credentials of South African wool and mohair handled, pressed and shipped by BKB.”

According to le Roux, the solar PV system is part of the company’s four phase clean energy strategy with “real benefits and tangible outcomes” at BKB’s facilities in Port Elizabeth.

Earlier this year, the company installed energy efficient lights and sensors in the 95,000 m² property.

“BKB will systematically introduce other initiatives to introduce cleaner energy over the next fifteen years”, le Roux said.

Le Roux added: “Our clean energy programme is one of several ongoing projects delivering real and meaningful transformation across commercial, social and environmental aspects of the industry and our business.”

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Nicolette Pombo-van Zyl has been working in the African power, energy and water sectors since 2011, first with African Utility Week and now as the Editor of ESI Africa. She is also an Advisory Board member of the Global and African Power & Energy Elites publications. With her passion for sustainable business and placing African countries on the international stage, Nicolette takes a keen interest in current affairs and technology trends.