Making the best of Namibia’s sunshine with solar energy

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An aerial view of Legacy Hotels and Resorts’ Windhoek with its new solar panels.

Solar is undoubtedly the way of the future for African companies looking to alternative energy to supplement power supply systems on the continent. It is with this that Legacy Hotels and Resorts’ Windhoek Country Club Resort, has turned to the abundant power provided by the Namibian sun, and created a 1,248 square metre solar farm to assist in powering its operations.

When considering solar as its preferred means of alternative energy, the Windhoek Country Club Resort, approached Sedgeley Solar Energy for advice. After consultation, it was decided that the property would need 1,248 square metres of solar panelling made of materials that can withstand outside temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius. After contracting Sedgeley to assist in the project, the team set out to install panels, which were acquired from Africa’s largest supplier of solar panels, Canadian Solar Panels.

‘With the plentiful sun we have in Namibia and Africa as a whole, it is criminal not to look at tapping into this renewable energy source as a means to power our businesses,’ says Paddy Brearley, MD of Legacy Hotels & Resorts. ‘Within the Legacy Group we have taken a strategic decision to lessen the impact we have on the environment. Starting with our properties in Sandton, which have green policies in place, through to our properties in Cape Town that are highly water conscious, and now to the solar project at the Windhoek Country Club Resort.

‘Each one of these forms part of a bigger strategic objective and emphasis we are placing on treading a little more carefully in this world of ours, and lessening the impact we as a business have on the environment around us,’ adds Brearley.

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The solar panels on the roof of Windhoek Country Club.

The installation took just three months to complete and offers the Windhoek Country Club Resort up to a 40% saving on its energy bills. Because the majority of the electricity that currently powers Namibia comes from coal fired power plants, solar panels have less of an impact on the environment, which was a major deciding factor for the property. Sedgeley’s control panel for the property even shows the user how many trees have been saved each day using the panels.

‘The project was not without challenges, one which presented itself was the adjustments that were needed to be made to the panel mountings, as they were to be installed and mounted onto a concrete roof. Concrete expands and contracts in the heat,’ explains Stuart Batchelor, Director of Sedgeley Solar Energy. ‘With the Windhoek Country Club Resort, we needed to mount the solar panels on concrete lintels so that they didn’t shift, and we angled the panels to 15 degrees north so that the property could get the best production of energy.’

‘Solar energy is cheaper, greener and cleaner. A major benefit to the property is that it won’t be subject to electricity increases. Looking further down the line, when the installation is working at full capacity, any of the excess energy it produces can be fed back into the grid,’ adds Batchelor.

The panels produce about 200 kilowatt-hours of energy between all 624 of them. While Canadian Solar Panels provided the panels, the industrial grade battery inverters used in the project come from German company, Kaco, of which there are four in total.

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The 1248 square solar farm on the roof of Windhoek Country Club.

Furthermore, another benefit is undoubtedly the fact that the Namibian government is very supportive of solar power and almost every town in the country has properties with solar panels. The initial setup of solar can be a massive undertaking and is by no means a cheap exercise, however the long-term and the short-term savings, can quantify the investment in just a few short years.

According to Batchelor, the Windhoek Country Club Resort has spared no expense at deploying a state of the art solution that makes use of only the best technologies the leaders in solar have on offer. Furthermore the property has contracted the technical team from Sedgeley Solar Energy to assist with the maintenance of the solution for the next 20 years.

‘It is a big undertaking. We not only know that we are doing the right thing for business by installing the solar panels, we are assured that we are doing the very best thing for the environment as well. By already seeing a 40% reduction in our power bill is testament to the fact that our investment into solar has been well placed,’ Brearley concludes.

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