South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal Province is known for its beaches and sunshine. 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 reducing their monthly electricity costs.
Mtuba Mall is a 17,200 square metr regional shopping centre situated 200 kilometres north of Durban. The mall’s owners have been keenly aware of the huge cost savings and greening benefits that could be achieved through harnessing solar energy.
And now, thanks to SolarSaver, the mall is in a position to do just that. SolarSaver, a company that allows clients to install customised solar PV solutions via a unique rent-to-own model, completed the installation of a 1MW system at the mall this month (July).
When Mtuba Mall was designed and developed five years ago, it aimed to be naturally kinder to the environment. Today, large open-air sections allow for abundant natural light and airflow, requiring less additional lighting and air conditioning.
Dylan Niemann, general manager of Mtuba Mall, said: “We are always looking for new 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.”
Solar has been an exciting addition to the mall, stated Niemann, adding “a few years ago, the cost of solar was prohibitive, as we would need to outlay significant capital on set-up costs”.
Niemann explained: “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. For Mtuba Mall, the SolarSaver solution is an absolute winner.”
Stuart Batchelor, director of SolarSaver, explains that the Mtuba Mall solution includes 3,440 solar panels and 20 inverters.
Batchelor noted: “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,” added Batchelor.
Author: Babalwa Bungane
This article was originally published on ESI Africa and is republished with permission with minor editorial changes.