Agribusiness to install one of the largest roof-mounted commercial PV solar arrays in South Africa

A roof-mounted solar photovoltaic (PV) energy harvesting system worth US$ 667 244 is to supply clean energy and reduce the South African wool and mohair industry’s carbon footprint and is the initiative of BKB in Nelson Mandela Bay.

Diversified South African agribusiness BKB made the announcement this week, giving details of what is set to be one of the biggest solar power installation projects in South Africa.

BKB, which processes and exports two thirds of the South African wool clip and significant part of the country’s mohair clip, said the installation will harvest and then introduce solar energy into its handling and shipping facility in Port Elizabeth.

The solar PV system, which will cover a total surface area of 3 400 m², will be located on the roofs of the BKB warehouse buildings which houses classing, handling and pressing facilities.

The pitched roof sections of these buildings are now being retrofitted with approximately 4 680 solar panels, each with an output of 100 Watt. The solar array, phase 1 which is expected to go online after its installation later this month, will generate 400 kVA (peak) – approximately 40% of the facility’s electricity needs. BKB will recoup the projects investment costs over a period through energy savings.

It will also be the largest roof-mounted solar PV system installed on commercial premises in Nelson Mandela Bay to date, while possibly being one of the largest in the country, second to Vodacom’s R10 million (US$ 834 056) single roof-mounted 3 600 m² solar PV system at the company’s Century City offices in Cape Town which was unveiled in 2013. BKB plans to recoup the project’s investment costs over a 10 year period through energy savings of approximately R850 000 (US$ 70 894) per year.

Jacobus le Roux, BKB head of corporate marketing and public relations said:

“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, baled and shipped by BKB.”

The initiative forms part of the company’s sustainability strategy and an organisational value which promotes accountability and constant innovation to for environmentally friendly sustainable growth. He said that the rooftop solar PV installation system is another stage of a 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.

“We are deeply committed to becoming the country’s leading low-carbon agribusiness. BKB will systematically introduce other initiaitves to introduce cleaner energy over the next years.”

Le Roux said BKB wants to set the pace and direction for the development of renewable energy alternatives within the South Africa agricultural economy.

“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”, he said.

The Solar PV Installation System was undertaken by Rhino Energy Group.

Source: Press Release by BKB. Image Credit: Neil Piennaar for BKB.