Dr Dom Wills, CEO of solar project developer, SOLA Future Energy. PHOTO: HWB Communications

JOHANNESBURG - The Western Cape town of Clanwilliam’s first retail shopping centre to be opened on Thursday is an example of how renewable energy is aiding economic development in small towns with limited access to the national grid, an energy company executive said on Wednesday.

SOLA Future Energy installed a solar photovoltaic system providing the additional power for the Cedar Mill Mall that state-owned power utility Eskom could not supply.

Eskom indicated that it was able to supply only 250 kVA of continuous power due to constraints on the grid, while the mall’s developers, Noble Property, , needed at least 500 kVA to get the project off the ground.

"The solution was to utilise the substantial roof space on the mall to install 2580 solar panels with a capacity of 851kW," SOLA Future Energy CEO Dominic Wills said.

Thanks to the solar PV and an additional battery system, electricity can also be supplied to the mall independent of the central grid, making the centre resilient to power outages which often plague small, remote municipalities.

“In addition to providing power to the grid and off-grid, the exciting potential of solar PV technology is that it can provide solutions that supplement the grid. This technology is deployable in rural settings, where electricity connections are often limited,” said Wills.

The new shopping centre is expected to create 300 permanent jobs.

- African News Agency (ANA)