Electricity + Control

Silvana Claassen of CES South Africa discusses reducing one’s carbon footprint in security complexes.

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Silvana Headshot MediumHaving been invited to ‘Write @ the Back’ of the July 2017 issue of the Electricity + Control magazine, I wish to discuss a topic that has been fascinating me for some time: how can owners of sectional title units in security complexes reduce their personal carbon footprint?

In some European countries, the energy market is privatised which means that residents can choose the company from which to purchase electricity for powering their homes. This allows for the opportunity to reduce one’s carbon footprint simply by purchasing ‘green’ [1] electricity from companies that invest in renewable energy. In South Africa, residents cannot choose their energy supplier, hence the ability to reduce one’s carbon footprint associated with energy-consumption is limited. Up until now the only alternative is to generate one’s own electricity, e.g. through investing in a PV rooftop installation. Next to a personal desire to reduce one’s carbon footprint, many residents wish to get ‘off-the-grid’ to no longer be victim to Eskom’s unannounced power cuts. With an average of more than 2 500 hours of sunshine per year and average solar-radiation levels ranging between 4,5 and 6,5 kWh/m2 per day [2], the installation of solar PV rooftop panels is a logical answer to a home-owner’s ambition to get ‘off-the-grid’ and reduce one’s carbon footprint.

Unless living in a freestanding home, the practicalities around such measures are not always straightforward. And living in a security complex is not uncommon in South Africa. Sectional title living imposes extra challenges to the wish to consume green energy because installing PV panels on your roof may be considered aesthetically displeasing or undesirable when viewed from the outside of your unit. Or simply because the physical features of your section are not able to facilitate a rooftop PV installation, e.g. when you own a ground floor unit.

If bodies corporate would invest in the installation of PV panels on communal buildings such as the clubhouse, swimming pool-area and/or carports, green electricity could be generated locally and occupants will have the choice to consume clean power as an alternative to the carbon-intensive electricity supplied by Eskom. Over and above the possibility to reduce one’s carbon footprint, home owners could also benefit from uninterrupted (green) power supply when they use the locally generated green electricity in combination with a home battery such as the ‘powerwall’ that has become available on the South African market in 2016. Like this, the body corporate enables home-owners to: reduce their personal carbon footprint; ánd to get ‘off-the-grid’ (provided they invest in a home battery); ánd still benefit from all the other benefits that security complex living offers.

Naturally this calls for some out-of-the-box thinking regarding e.g. legal arrangements, financial and investment structures, technical constraints, etc. And to answer questions including: ‘Who is the owner of the electricity generated?’; ‘Does the body corporate’s investment impact on the monthly levies and how will this affect home-owners which are not interested in green power?’; ‘Will there be enough capacity to be able to offer green power to all the units?’, etc. Body corporates can contact CES South Africa for performing a feasibility study into the suggested installation of PV panels or other measures that would enable unit-occupants to reduce their carbon footprint. After all we owe it not only to our environment but also to future generations to optimise the use of clean energy.

Silvana Claassen
CES South Africa
C +27 (0) 78 097 0852
E silvana@carbon-energy-solutions.co.za

W www.carbon-energy-solutions.co.za

References
[1] To ensure that a percentage of the total electricity such a company sells is green, certificates are awarded for each 1 000 kWh generated from renewable energy (green) sources.
[2] Compared to e.g. Germany with around 1 500 sunshine hours per year and daily average radiation levels of 3,3 kWh/m2.

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