Photo Voltaic panels, an alternative source of electricity for South African cold stores?

NEWS & MEDIA | 11 October 2012

Photo Voltaic panels, an alternative source of electricity for South African cold stores?

Earlier this year Barpro Storage assisted a local company, Heliogen, to put up a prototype carport /electric car recharger outside our offices in Milnerton, Cape Town.

The Heliogen PV electric car charger at Barpro’s offices in Milnerton, Cape Town
The Heliogen PV electric car charger at Barpro’s offices in Milnerton, Cape Town

The invertor which feeds the electricity into Barpro’s distribution board
The invertor which feeds the electricity into Barpro’s distribution board

As South Africa’s electric car project (the Joule) has been discontinued, the approx. 20m2 of PV panels have been supplying electricity to the Barpro building via an invertor. Yesterday at about 10.00am, the panels were supplying 884 watts, although this dropped later in the day due to clouding and partial building shadow.  A recent visit to Australia showed that residential houses are installing PV panels, with the number expecting to rise to 10% by the end of 2012. The installations on each roof vary but 20m2 is about average.

As far as cold stores are concerned, the large roof areas may hold potential for PV panels, especially if they are installed instead of roof sheeting. I have visited one store in London’s newly developed docklands with PV panels on the roof. Several cold stores in the US have larger scale PV installations and Commercial Cold Storage, City Deep, has installed PV panels with batteries to power their docking equipment.  Installing large scale PV installations will inevitably come down to cost, but it is possible that ESKOM might provide a grant as such installations would substantially reduce electricity demand.

Chan Brothers cold store in London’s Docklands. Possibly the most energy efficient cold store in the world.
Chan Brothers cold store in London’s Docklands. Possibly the most energy efficient cold store in the world.

The status panel in the foyer at Chan Brothers. The day in question was overcast and cold.
The status panel in the foyer at Chan Brothers. The day in question was overcast and cold.

For more information on the potential for PV panels and cold stores, call Mark Dawson of Heliogen on 072 412 3715 or email him on mark.dawson@heliogen.co.za