SOUTH AFRICA: PPA Company equips Nelson Mandela University with solar off-grid

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A 1 MW solar off-grid has recently been activated on the Nelson Mandela University (NMU) campus in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. It was built by PPA Company, a subsidiary of the German company Tagex.

Nelson Mandela University (NMU) now has a solar off-grid, which has been commissioned by university officials to provide electricity to the campus and support solar energy programmes.

The small solar power plant was built by PPA Company, a subsidiary of the German company Tagex. It has installed 30 solar trackers on a 60 m2 site. It is a device that orients the solar panels according to the position of the sun. “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 solar trackers of the installation carry 2,334 photovoltaic panels. The power plant also consists of 1200 fixed solar panels. “The mix of two different systems was chosen because of space constraints and because we also wanted to provide a facility that would attract research,” explains Dinesh van der Haar. The solar inverters in the system convert the energy produced by the solar panels into electricity.

“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. To make this project a success, the university in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape Province, signed an agreement with PPA Company and Standard Bank, a South African financial institution active in the renewable energy sector.

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. “The plant is not very large, but it is a significant milestone and the university is looking to expand the programme,” says Ernest van Dyk.

Jean Marie Takouleu

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