Renewable power for Epsom Downs

EPSOM DOWNS – With the national power crisis continuing to plague South Africa, Epsom Downs shopping centre has turned to a greener alternative with the installation of a solar farm on their rooftop.

In conjunction with carbon disclosure company Emira’s sustainability strategy, the installation of the solar farms became a financially-viable action after the National Energy Regulator (Nersa) approved an increase in Eskom’s tariff rate of approximately 13 percent for this year. Development manager from Emira Justin Bowen said, “Recognising the strain on the Eskom electrical grid and their call for assistance from large energy users, it is also now part of our response to their call to reduce our dependence on the national grid.”

The project was run by Emira property fund, whose offices are adjacent to the Epsom Downs office park. With the help of supplier Bright Black Solar, the six-week project began negotiations in July last year and was fully functional by early this year.

The roof currently holds 1 084 solar panels and is expected to reduce the shopping centre’s annual carbon dioxide emissions by about 503.838kgs. The solar farm is also expected to save 515.172 kilowatts of energy annually.

Bowen added that the installation was never a way to improve trading within the centre, but rather their way of reducing their carbon footprint. He said, “We do hope that our customers appreciate that we are trying to assist with preventing load shedding and supporting our centre.”

Bowen concluded, “In the light of the national power crisis, renewable energy and specifically Photovoltaics could improve the amount of power required on the national grid. Due to the speed at which the farms can be built and installed, there could be an almost daily reduction in Eskom dependence and a move towards more onsite renewable energy production. We do foresee the trend towards renewables growing rapidly over the next few years.”

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