The system has been installed by New South Energy on the farm’s dam, helping to generate clean energy, while also minimising evaporation from the farm’s dam and saving valuable agricultural land.
The system is the first commercially operated floating solar system on the continent, and at 60kWp, it is also the largest.
The first phase of the project, which also includes a land-based solar installation on the farm, will allow the farm to run 90% of its energy intensive cold storage, irrigation and wedding venue facilities off of the traditional electricity grid.
A second phase which will see the installation of battery packs, will remove them from the grid completely.
Speaking at a launch event on the farm on Friday, Minister Beverley Schäfer said: “This project has looked at some of the key issues sustainability issues we are facing in agriculture and the economy today- water and energy- and has attempted to find solutions. The system reduces the farm’s reliance on the electricity grid, and provides clean, affordable energy supply, while at the same time also reducing evaporation and saving water. The knock on effect is that the business will save money in the long run, and create a business that is not only environmentally sustainable, but financially sustainable as well."
Boplaas 1743, which owns and operates the farm, is one of the oldest family owned businesses in the country. Financial director Carl van der Merwe said the installation would reduce their carbon footprint by half. With rising electricity prices, and uncertainty around Eskom, the family made the decision to invest in solar.
“Marlenique farm is the highest energy user in our portfolio. We are aiming to be 100% green through solar energy solutions across our entire portfolio in the near future.”
Minister Schäfer said: “As the Western Cape Government we have been urging businesses to take up solar PV as an alternative energy source. We’ve seen uptake grow from just 18MW in 2015 to 112 MW today, which reduces demand on the grid and helps to diversify our energy mix. We are pleased to see businesses like Marlenique responding to our call to invest in resilience in such an innovative way.”
CEO of New South Energy David Masureik commended Boplaas for being innovators in the agricultural sector and said: “I would also like to thank the government for their interest in solutions that will inevitably encourage the sector to thrive. Without the support and encouragement from national and local government for industry to become more sustainable and independent in terms of power solutions, our business would not exist. We are honoured to take part in positive change happening across the public and private sector.”
GreenCape, the Western Cape Government's partner in developing the green sector, has also just published a brief on the solar industry, highlighting the various financing and incentive options available to businesses who are considering solar PV as an option.
The brief can be found here: https://www.greencape.co.za/content/financing-solar-pv/
Minister Schäfer said: “Investments into alternative energy can help to reduce shocks on our economy from events like energy and water shortages and help to protect our economy and valuable jobs.”