from DION HENRICK in Cape Town
CAPE TOWN – THE establishment of a solar plant by one of South Africa’s largest citrus farms, Joubert en Seuns, two years ago is proving to be a masterstroke as the country battles inconsistent power supplies.
Following the setting of the 265,98 kWp roof-mounted solar plant farming operation based at Schoemanskloof in Mpumalanga Province, the farm’s electricity bill has decreased between 33 percent to 38 percent per month.
The use of clean energy has significantly reduced the carbon footprint of the farm.
Plans are underway to export the surplus electricity produced by the solar plant in off-peak months.
The solar park, made up of 806 x 330Wp Canadian Solar Photovoltaic panels, was commissioned in June 2019 and has been harnessing the sun’s energy and converting it to electricity to power the farm.
“The long-term goal is ultimately to export the surplus electricity produced by the solar plant in off-peak months so that others can also benefit from our system, once we are able to finalize an export agreement with the regulator,” explained General Manager Lionel Eva.
“In the meanwhile, the solar system has not only been a valuable contributor to our operation, but also a great conversation starter with regular questions being asked about it by intrigued visitors to the farm stall,” he added.
New Southern Energy constructed the solar plant, which is connected to the national electricity grid.
“The system’s performance is monitored and controlled through a master controller, which can also communicate with the system’s inverters,” David Masureik, Chief Executive Officer of New Southern Energy, explained.
He informed that all of the data was logged and saved in cloud-based storage.
“Furthermore, the performance can be monitored in real time via a smart phone app, meaning that faults can be identified and rectified quickly,” Masureik added.
Joubert en Seuns is formerly a vegetable and maize farm.
Brothers Francois and Joubert Kobus converted the property, which was their father’s into a large-scale citrus production and packing business.
Now focusing on citrus, including lemon, navel, valencia, mandarins and others, as well as macadamia nuts, they currently export over 9 000 tons of produce to the northern hemisphere each year.
Approximately 2 000 tons go to the local market.
Some 685 hectares of the 1 000 hectares under irrigation on the property are dedicated to various citrus orchards, with the rest allocated to macadamia trees.
– CAJ News