News and Reviews – Real estate fund supports off grid

Shopping centre reduces strain on national power grid and diminishes its carbon footprint.

Emira Property Fund has installed a R6-million solar farm on the roof of its Epsom Downs Shopping Centre in Bryanston, Sandton. This pilot project is Emira’s first step to adding renewable energy solutions to its quality portfolio of properties across South Africa, and part of its sustainability strategy.

The photovoltaic (PV) solar farm, comprising 1 084 panels, will produce around 271kWp, or about 30% of the electricity required by the shopping centre – the maximum possible with its roof size. Emira’s state-of-the-art pilot project will save 515 172kWh of energy, and some 252 434kbs of coal each year. At the same time it will reduce carbon emissions annually by approximately 503 838kgs. To put this in perspective, you would need to plant 458 new trees to offset these emissions. Justin Bowen, Development Manager at Emira, comments: ‘For some time now Emira has explored the ways renewable energy can reduce our carbon footprint. Now, with Nersa’s approved increase in Eskom’s tariff rate of some 13% this year, the financial viability for solar farms is becoming achievable.’

He adds: ‘We also recognise the strain on South Africa’s electrical supply and the new Epsom Downs solar farm responds to the call for energy users to reduce dependence on the national grid.’ Emira Property Fund is a JSE-listed REIT that is invested in a quality diversified portfolio of office, retail and industrial properties. 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. 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 specially imported. The solar farm only took six weeks to construct, but was six months in its planning and logistics stages. While 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.’

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