InnovUS office first on campus to install PV solar panels
The InnovUS office was recently abuzz with excitement – it is after all the first administrative building on the Stellenbosch University campus to install photovoltaic (PV) solar panels. This green initiative was celebrated with a launch held at its offices in De Beer Street, Stellenbosch.
The PV panels at InnovUS will allow the office to generate its own electricity, thereby reducing the amount of electricity purchased from the municipality. This is in line with the overall sustainability objectives of the University and the project will pave the way for the rest of the University to follow suit. “We are proud to be able to serve as an example of how this well-established technology works and how it benefits the environment,” says Anita Nel, Chief Executive Officer: InnovUS.
The project is a collaborative effort between InnovUS, Stellenbosch University’s Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRSES) and Setsolar, a renewable energy company specialising in PV solar module manufacturing and installation as well as solar water heating systems. The PV panels were donated by Setsolar and the system installed by CRSES. Inverters and other equipment were supplied by Emergent Energy (Pty) Ltd.
Duncan Palmer, Research Engineer: CRSES, was responsible for the installation and commissioning of the PV system. He says: “The peak production of the PV panels occur at midday, which coincides with the peak electricity demand of InnovUS. This new system also monitors the amount of electricity InnovUS has saved because of the PV panels.”
Palmer adds that the launch served as an opportunity to showcase exactly how the system works and how it can be used to reduce electricity consumption which decreases the use of fossil fuel and reduces CO2 emissions. “Installing an alternative energy source must go hand in hand with changing one’s habits,” says Palmer. “These include simple things such as switching off lights when not in use, wearing warmer clothing instead of switching on heaters during winter, adjusting air conditioners warmer in summer and cooler in winter, and cycling instead of driving to work.”
According to Prof Wikus van Niekerk, Director: CRSES, the project will be upgraded in future to make it even more effective. “Energy from the panels is currently being used as it is produced, but with the planned storage capabilities and the use of a bi-directional inverter, energy can also be used when needed, for instance during power outages, at night or on overcast days.”
* InnovUS newsletter (9 December 2010)