Zululand shopping centre banks on solar while going green
31 July 2019 | Web Article Number: ME201915660
KWAZULU-Natal is known for its beaches and sunshine, and local retail businesses are starting to take advantage of all those sunny days to generate their own electricity with a view to “going green” and to reducing their monthly electricity costs.
Mtuba Mall, a five-year-old, 17,200-square-metre regional shopping centre situated 200 kilometres north of Durban is one of them. It turned to SolarSaver to install customised solar photovoltaic (PV) solution via a unique rent-to-own model. It completed installation of a one-megawatt installation at the mall in July.
Mall General Manager Dylan Niemann said, “We are always looking for initiatives that help reduce our impact on the environment. In addition, the irregular power supply and load shedding threats over the last few years have forced us to search for alternative ways to generate our own electricity.
“A few years ago, the cost of solar was prohibitive, as we would need to outlay significant capital on set-up costs. SolarSaver’s rent-to-own offering has changed the game considerably as they cover the full cost of the installation and all the costs associated with the ongoing maintenance of the system. For a monthly rental fee, we can anticipate significant future savings on our current electricity costs, without the hassle of buying and maintaining a system ourselves,” Niemann said.
Stuart Batchelor, Director of SolarSaver, said the Mtuba Mall solution includes 3,440 solar panels and 20 inverters.
“The mall’s objective was to generate as much electricity as possible for its own consumption. The project came with some unique challenges but we were able to come up with some innovative solutions. We’re also quite proud to have delivered such a large installation in a relatively remote location. The end result for Mtuba Mall is an anticipated solar output of 1 528 200 kWh per year.
“Retailers like Mtuba Mall are taking a long-term view. Installing a solar solution means they get the immediate cost-saving benefits, as well as the potential to install batteries and go off-grid in the future. But beyond this, they understand the need to embrace the sort of sustainable practices that will ultimately keep KZN green,” said Batchelor.
SolarSaver is currently working on a number of other solar projects around Kwa-Zulu Natal. Installations currently underway include the Shelly Boulevard Centre on the South Coast, Sheffield Manufacturing in Durban and an Engen service station in Mt Edgecombe. These are in addition to a number of installations already completed in the province.