Published in Engineering News and ESI Africa in December 2021

THE NATIONAL RESEARCH FOUNDATION INVESTS IN RENEWABLE ENERGY

In August 2021, a roof top solar PV system was installed by SEM SOLUTIONS at the National Research Foundation (NRF) at the Brummeria Building in Pretoria.

Two 82.2kW and one 50kW Solar Edge inverters were installed, providing a combined AC capacity of 215.6 kW. The system has a DC capacity of 230kWp and is grid-tied.

To ensure uninterrupted business continuity, the system is integrated with the pre-existing standby generator, and is able to modulate the PV system output to enable the system to operate alongside the generator.

Petie Roos, Project Manager at the NRF says: “The NRF has decided to go this route so that the system could monitor the building load, the generator load and the available PV capacity, and regulate the PV output in order to reduce the generator load to an optimal point. This reduces diesel consumption and therefore, cost.”

“The electricity cost saving seen in the last couple of months is averaging around R50,000-00 per month”, continues Roos, “but as we’re also calculating the saving average from pre-COVID levels and as there are now less people working on site, we believe that around 60% of this saving is directly due to the use of solar.”

Based on our drive towards green energy, the NRF is intending to expand the use of solar energy at the current and other sites. Says Roos: “We are going this route to reduce our carbon footprint, but there is also a tangible bottom-line benefit.”

Concludes Mohammed Patel, Director at SEM SOLUTIONS: “We are increasingly seeing companies exploring the integration of renewal energy systems into both their sustainability and their business plans. Systems that are well engineered and planned are providing measurable benefits; from both an environmental and an economic perspective.”

About the National Research Foundation

The National Research Foundation (NRF) is an independent statutory body established in accordance with the National Research Foundation Act. Its mandate is to support and promote research through funding, human resource development and the provision of the necessary research facilities in order to facilitate the creation of knowledge, innovation and development in all fields of science and technology, including indigenous knowledge; supporting and promoting public awareness of, and engagement with, science; and promoting the development and maintenance of the national science system and support of Government priorities, thereby contributing to the improvement of the quality of life of all South Africans.

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