Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality (EMM) in Gauteng has launched the first and only solar plant of its kind in the country at the OR Tambo Precinct in Wattville.
This solar plant is made up of solar panels mounted on support steel structures, which are connected together in strings. All solar panels connected together are called a solar generator or plant.
The solar power plant valued at R8.4 million was unveiled on 12 October by the Executive Mayor, councillor Mondli Gungubele and Member of the Mayoral Committee on Water and Energy, councillor Aubrey Nxumalo.
The plant is located in the R140 million OR Tambo Precinct, which is set to put the City on the map for the benchmark technologies that have been used in the environmentally friendly construction of the facility. This includes specialised techniques like rammed earth, strawbale and cob wall construction, green roof technology, and thermal mass earth flooring.
It produces about 200 kW of electricity through 860 PV (photovoltaic) solar panels on 2 500 square metres of land generating enough energy to power about 133 low cost houses.
The solar energy doesn’t involve fuels, waste, or pollution, thereby proving not to be harmful to the environment and has a life span of 20 to 25 years or more if properly maintained.
Inverters (located in the storage house) convert direct electricity current generated by the solar generator into alternating current that is fed into the municipality/Eskom grid.
Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality Executive Mayor, councillor Mondli Gungubele, unveils the R8.4 million solar plant which is capable of generating power from the sun to the houses at the OR Tambo Precinct in Wattville.
The operation and maintenance is done by simple manual cleaning of panels from rain water and dust.
The development boasts the following facilities:
1. Environmental Centre – where environmental education will be conducted;
2. OR Tambo Narrative Centre – this will house the new Oliver Tambo exhibition;
3. Multi-purpose Arts and Crafts workshops – a space for crafters to produce, exhibit and sell their goods;
4. Outdoor Amphitheatre – for performing artists to showcase their talent.
Gungubele explains that 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.
“We are committed to promote the up-take of renewable energy as this will enhance our drive to become a progressive low carbon friendly city.
This will go a long way in relieving the surging costs of electricity for the poor,” he says.
He adds that the launch of the renewable energy project is in line with Ekurhuleni’s Energy Strategy that identifies proactive promotion of green power as key for creating a sustainable future for the municipality. – Denise Mhlanga