Vrede en Lust goes Solar!

Solar Panels

The Vrede en Lust winery, in the beautiful Franschhoek wine valley, has commissioned MLT Drives (Pty) Ltd of Cape Town to install a 218 KWp solar power plant. The leading edge photo-voltaic (PV) solar plant will generate 374,000 kWh annually, enough to meet the winery’s power needs. Vrede en Lust aims to become a carbon neutral winery in the near future.

MLT Drives was contracted to design and install the solar energy system. The complete installation will cover an area of 1,600m². The 1,000-panel installation will be the largest at a winery in South Africa to date. The Vrede en Lust solar energy installation is also the first project to be approved under the Eskom rebate scheme for small-scale renewable energy.

“We were pleasantly surprised that the Eskom process was painless, with great responsiveness and a very quick turnaround time” noted Dana Buys, owner of Vrede en Lust

15% of the panels will be installed on the winery roof and the rest will be installed along Vrede en Lust’s border with Plaisir de Merle. “We looked into a green and more sustainable approach to the winery’s energy needs for some time. The PV solar market has reached the tipping point, where it makes complete sense to install. The Eskom rebate helped to seal the deal. The project brings significant financial as well as environmental benefits to our business” said Buys.

Apart from saving more than eleven thousand tons of CO2 over its 30 year life, the project will also save fifteen million liters of water, 6,200 tons of coal and nearly two thousand tons of ash.

Considering that one ton of CO2 at 560 cubic meters is the same size as a large hot-air balloon, picture eleven thousand hot-air balloons to get a visual image of the so-called greenhouse gas saving!

The inverters and solar panels were sourced from local manufacturers to reduce the carbon footprint of the installation and aid in supporting the local industry.

The inverters to be used at Vrede en Lust are 3 MLT Karoo70 inverters for large power plants and was designed for the African climate.

During the daylight hours, power generated by the PV cells will supplement the power usage of the farm, reducing electricity usage from Eskom. The areas where solar panels could be fitted were divided into three sections, together forming a long semi-uninterrupted line. Great care was taken with the design of the special mounting structure as well as how it is to be incorporating it into the existing vineyard.

A display screen will be located in the wine tasting areas. The visitors will be able to see information on the technology installed at Vrede en Lust and have the PV system incorporated showing live system performance and CO2 emission reduction.

Eskom has launched a rebate scheme for smaller renewable energy technologies, including renewable energy, wind, hydro and others. It has started a pilot phase over 3 years, with a target of 10MW over this period and project sizes from 10KWp to maximum 1MWp as target.

The program will be rolled out in terms of Eskom IDM’s Standard Offer Program (SOP), and later also in terms of the IDM Standard Product program. There will be additional requirements over and above the existing SOP process. The proposed rebate is pegged at R1.20 per KWh over a 3-year period, with a disbursement as per SOP rules (70% on commissioning, there after 10% at end of years 1,2 and 3).