Urban property developers have realised the potential of city rooftops for solar farming, with factories and shopping malls being transformed through the installation of acres of solar panels on previously underutilised roof space. juwi Renewable Energies has assisted Growthpoint Properties in identifying its premium properties as ideal locations for solar farms. Northgate Shopping Centre, co-owned by Sasol Pension Fund in Johannesburg, is the latest urban mall identified for the company’s rooftop solar installations.
Greg Austin, MD of juwi Renewable Energies, the EPC provider to the projects says that solar is moving into cities on an industrial scale: “The Northern Cape is the centre of the solar industry in the country, but large-scale property owners in urban areas are realising the potential cost-saving in bringing solar farms closer to the area of demand and creating own-consumption solutions.”
Shopping centres, with their large flat roof areas, are ideal candidates for solar. At Northgate Shopping Centre in Gauteng, a newly completed 960 kWp roof-mounted solar PV installation is set to produce 9% of the energy required by the shopping centre.
The installation is believed to be one of the biggest thin-film PV technology projects in the country.
“Although, not new to South Africa, thinfilm technology has a higher energy yield in low-light/shading conditions, a higher energy yield at high temperatures and with increasing efficiencies and decreasing prices internationally, this installation will guide the way for future thin-film projects in South Africa,” explained juwi project engineer, Coen Fourie.
Fourie elaborated that three different roof formats have been used in the project. “These PV modules can be used on any roof or carport – flat or pitched, as at Northgate.”
“The rooftop system can be applied to a wide range of applications including industrial complexes, hospitals, airports and office blocks.”
“Growthpoint Properties is committed to solar energy generation, and the leading driver for this project was a combination of electricity production and maximum demand savings,” said Werner van Antwerpen, head of sustainability and utilities at Growthpoint.
According to Fourie, the project which took 12 weeks of construction, was completed on schedule, and entered commercial operation on 15 August 2016. A portion of the installation and interconnection was carried out at night to minimise the impact on the centre.
The project supported local skills and job creation: “We used local labour for the project, all of whom were trained on site.”
juwi will provide operations and maintenance services to Growthpoint on the Northgate project, as part of their growing fleet of more than 120 MW of solar PV installations being monitored from their Cape Town office.
Growthpoint has also contracted juwi to install a similar roof-mounted solar PV installation at Brooklyn Mall in Pretoria, which they own and manage, in early 2017.