Listed diversified chemicals group Omnia has started work on the second phase of its solar power plant, adding to the finished five-megawatt (MW) power plant it launched last week at its Sasolburg operations in the Free State.
The second phase will add another 11 000 photovoltaic (PV) panels, which will be spread across 6.5 hectares, the company said on Monday.
Omnia managing director for manufacturing Francois Visagie says the project reaffirms the company’s long-term goal to reduce its environmental footprint.
“By increasing our capacity to generate an additional 10 000MWh of renewable energy on an annual basis, we hope to unlock further growth and lead by example in the integration of solutions to improve sustainable energy supply.”
The group expects this phase of the project to be concluded over seven months, similar to the first phase (for which an in-house team saw to its management, procurement and engineering, while 90 external contract workers managed installation).
Omnia CEO Seelan Gobalsamy says the second phase of its solar power plant project reinforces the company’s stance on future renewable energy initiatives.
“Both phases of the solar project aim to augment the electricity supply at the Sasolburg plant and reduce the group’s dependency on coal-fired power sources and the national grid,” Gobalsamy says.
From the first part of the plant, which has 11 000 bi-facial solar PV panels, Omnia expects to generate around 10 500 megawatt-hour (MWh) a year, translating to a saving of at least R12 million per annum in energy costs.
The company says that together with its ability to produce electricity from excess process steam from its nitric acid plants (co-generation), this will supplement between 25% and 35% of the group’s electricity requirements at the Sasolburg operations.
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The company’s solar projects come at a time when South Africa is struggling from its worst-ever power outages, with 250 days of load shedding planned for 2023.
“There has been a call for all stakeholders to work together to find resolutions to the country’s energy crisis which impacts all of us,” says Gobalsamy.
“We are exceptionally proud to do our part to alleviate the electricity challenges and reduce Omnia’s impact on the environment.”
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