New solar farm at Epsom Downs Shopping Centre eases strain on power grid

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Emira Property Fund has installed a R6 million solar farm on the roof of its Epsom Downs Shopping Centre in Bryanston, Johannesburg.

This pilot project is Emira’s first step in adding renewable energy solutions to its portfolio of properties across South Africa, and part of its sustainability strategy.

The photovoltaic (PV) solar farm has 1 084 panels and will produce around 271kWp (kilowatt peak), or about 30 percent of the electricity required by the shopping centre – the maximum possible with its roof size.

“This pilot project will save 515 172kWh of energy, and about 252 434kg of coal, each year. At the same time it will reduce carbon emissions annually by approximately 503 838kg. To put this in perspective, you would need to plant 458 new trees to offset these emissions,” says Emira development manager, Justin Bowen.

“For some time now Emira has explored ways renewable energy can reduce our carbon footprint. Now, with Nersa’s approved increase in Eskom’s tariff rate of 13 percent this year, the financial viability for solar farms is becoming achievable.

“We also recognise the strain on the electrical supply and the new Epsom Downs solar farm responds to the call for energy users to reduce dependence on the national grid.”

Emira is a JSE-listed REIT that is invested in a diversified portfolio of office, retail and industrial properties. Its assets comprise 148 properties valued at R12.5 billion. Emira is also internationally diversified through its direct interest in ASX-listed Growthpoint Properties Australia (GOZ), valued in excess of R700m, with total assets now at R13 billion.

As a carbon disclosure company, Emira measures and monitors its carbon footprint. It is mindful of its environmental and social impacts and strives for sustainability in all key areas of its business, says Bowen.

Making the success and effectiveness of its pilot PV solar project easy to monitor, Emira’s head office is in the adjacent Epsom Downs Office Park.

Emira partnered with Bright Black Solar to supply and install the system, and its panels were imported. The solar farm only took six weeks to build, but was six months in its planning and logistics stages.

“Although the installation was intended to reduce Emira’s carbon footprint, it has also resulted in other far- reaching benefits. By taking strain off the power grid, Epsom Downs Shopping Centre is doing its bit to prevent load shedding, and we are sure its customers and neighbours appreciate this.

“We believe there could be a greater move towards more on-site renewable energy reduction in the near future. In the light of the national power crisis, renewable energy, and specifically PV, could improve the amount of power required on the national grid. We foresee a trend towards renewables growing rapidly over the next few years,” says Bowen.

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