Marlenique Estate, a fruit farm and wedding venue just outside of Franschhoek, has just unveiled Africa’s first state-of-the-art floating solar PV system.
New South Energy was the company responsible for the installation, which was built on the farm’s dam.
The system generates clean energy while minimising the dam’s evaporation rate and saving valuable agricultural land space.
This system is the first commercially-operated floating solar system on the African continent and also the largest, with a 60kWp capacity.
The farm will run 90% of its cold storage, irrigation and wedding venue facilities off the grid owing to the first phase of the project which includes the installation of a land-based solar PV system on the farm.
In the second phase the estate will be removed from the main power grid completely when battery packs are added to the present set up.
Economic Opportunities Minister Beverley Schäfer says, “This project has looked at some of the key 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.”
Financial Director Carl van der Merwe, of the van de Merwe family who owns and runs the estate, says:
“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 also added that “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.”