MAKING a sustainable contribution to easing South Africa’s energy crisis, leading mineral processing OEM Multotec has installed renewable power at one of its facilities in Spartan near Johannesburg.
The substantial investment saw 684 photovoltaic (PV) solar panels being installed in November 2019, creating a 223 kW generating system. It serves Multotec’s most energy-intensive works – its injection moulding facility – providing almost 20% of the daily electricity demand.
According to Multotec’s group manufacturing executive, Werner Stessl, the impact of the new system is not just economic. It will also have important environmental benefits in terms of the country’s climate change targets.
“Multotec is committed to environmental sustainability and we value the fact that this installation is likely to save about 30 000 kg of carbon dioxide emissions each month,” says Stessl. “This is the equivalent of planting about 100 trees a month.”
He says the organisation has been carefully monitoring its rising electricity costs, and sought a responsible solution that would leverage the latest renewable energy technology. In collaboration with solar power experts Energy Capital, a thorough investigation of its energy consumption and available opportunities was conducted.
“After months of planning and research, it was established that we could run a battery-less system which would valuably augment our current municipal supply,” he says.
“After some structural engineering to prepare our designated roof areas, the panels were efficiently placed and linked up by mid-November last year.”
To date, the system has more than met Multotec’s expectations, which were contractually guaranteed by the service provider. The detailed up-front investigation showed that the installation could be repaid by energy savings within about four and a half years. System performance – right down to the electricity generated by each PV solar panel – can be monitored daily on an online dashboard, he says.
The local municipality has also begun to benefit from Multotec’s initiative, as there is usually ‘overflow’ power generated at weekends which the moulding facility does not need. This excess electricity is now channelled back into the main grid by Multotec, at no cost to the municipality.