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South Africa Unveils Its First Solar Plant

South Africa delivered on its promise of going green as the mayor of Ekurhuleni City unveiled its PV power plant—the first in the nation—in the township of Wattville.

The 200 kW solar power plant is at the environment-friendly OR Tambo Precinct and generates electricity through 860 PV panels installed on 2,500 square meters of land, delivering power to around 133 houses.

The renewable energy project is in line with the city’s Energy Strategy that promotes green power to sustain the city’s energy needs.

“This technology is the future in terms of saving the consumption of electricity, taking advantage of the sun as well as keeping our planet green and healthy, which has healthy benefits to us as well,” said Mondli Gungubele, mayor of Ekurhuleni.

“This will go a long way in relieving the surging costs of electricity for the poor,” he added.


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The power plant utilizes unique techniques like rammed earth, straw bale and cob wall construction, green roof technology, and thermal mass earth flooring, with PV panels that can generate electricity even during cloudy weather. The energy produced will be connected to the municipal power grid using 18 inverters and one combiner unit.

“We are envisaging connecting a 300 m cable from the combiner unit, laid into a cable trench to an existing power grid via 380 V kiosk,” said project director Tshilidzi Thenga, adding that a 25-meter high mast pole with six LED spot lights and separate PV panels will serve as security lighting to deter thieves at night.

Proper operation and maintenance of the solar power plant is done by simple manual cleaning of the panels, removing rainwater and dust. The panels are expected to last 20 to 25 years with correct care and maintenance.


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