South Africa’s Robben Island infamous for the imprisonment of Nelson Madela has launched a R25 million solar-powered mini-grid plant in what Tourism Minister Tokozile Xasa calls the first step in turning the world heritage site green.
“This project is the first step in a longer term initiative of greening the island and discussions are already underway with the management of Robben Island Museum on the implementation of a range of additional energy efficiency projects,” she said.
The integrated system carries the entire daytime electricity load and prioritises solar PV energy generation, which is supported by an 828 kilo Watt hours (kWh) battery storage – enabling the use solar energy on cloudy days and at night.
The solar PV mini-grid has the capacity of generating 666.4 kilo Watt peak (kWp) of clean energy, reducing the island’s reliance on diesel generating system. The PV mini-grid is expected to save235 000 litres of diesel per annum or 50% of previous usage.
“What we are therefore looking at is that this project will save the fiscal an estimated amount of almost R5 million per annum, which means that this project will pay itself within five years,” she said.
Robben Island solar mini-grid designers
The micro-grid solar project was designed and constructed by Sola Future Energy, the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) partner of the department of tourism, using CS6U- 340M Canadian Solar modules.
“The microgrid on Robben Island is the largest combined solar and lithium-ion storage microgrid system in South Africa,” said Dom Wills, CEO of SOLA Future Energy.
“For Robben Island, we have chosen our partners carefully as we wanted to ensure highest quality, safety and sustainability. For this very reason, Canadian Solar as a module supplier, was the natural fit, making a difference in lighting up Africa and Robben Island together. With this PV installation, a reduction of the Island’s carbon emission by at least 820 tons can be achieved,” he added.