South Africa: 1MW Solar PV Tracking System Installed at Nelson Mandela University

  • The Nelson Mandela University (NMU) campus in Port Elizabeth, South Africa has installed a 1MW Solar PV tracking system.
  • The system has been installed to offset energy demand and support solar energy programmes on the campus.
  • The EPC contractor responsible for the installation id PPA Company, a subsidiary of the German company Tagex.

“The new plant will produce 1 MW of electricity and will help reduce our peak demand and reduce our overall demand by 40% to 2.5 MW on the South Campus,” says Ernest van Dyk, Director of the NMU’s Photovoltaic Research Group.

The plant features a state of the art tracker system which programmes the photovoltaic panels to follow the arc of the sun from dawn until evening and a safety mechanism which flattens them out to reduce obstruction when the Port Elizabeth wind gets to strong.  “They are programmed to maximize energy efficiency by adapting to the seasons and different locations,” says Dinesh van der Haar, a PPA Company manager.

The project was made possible through a partnership between Standard Bank, PPA Company and the university.  The agreement provides that the NMU will purchase the electricity produced by PPA Company for 10 years. After this period, the plant will return to the university.

Standard Bank natural resources head Berrie de Jager said the initiative uses smart digital technology to help NMU move away from the grid and thereby reduce their emissions from coal-fired power.”

The NMU plant consisted of 1200 panels across 30 dual-axis tracking systems, plus another 2234 fixed photovoltaic panels, as well as a converter to transform the energy captured from sun’s rays to electricity. “The mix of different systems and orientations is designed to maximise solar yield, as well as the distribution within the allocated area,” said Dinesh van der Haar.

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

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