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Nedbank launches Africa’s first 100% Renewable Energy Powered Bank Branch

Date: 11 November 2013

Nedbank has opened the country's first hybrid of wind and PV powered branch at its Lansdowne Corner branch in Cape Town. Kestrel Renewable Energy designed and implemented this project for Nedbank. The Lansdowne Corner branch has been transformed to run completely on renewable energy as part of Nedbank’s commitment to being a leading enabler of environmental sustainability in South Africa. So effective is the hybrid energy installation that, during some months, it actually generates more electrical power than it uses. Any excess energy production is allocated to the shopping centre lighting, which is compliant with current legislation in that no energy is ever exported to the Municipality grid.

Once the decision was made to demonstrate a hybrid wind/PV model, a branch had to be found where the wind and solar characteristics are suitable. The peak solar irradiation at Lansdowne Corner is 7.28 kW/m2/day and the peak wind speed is 5.91 metres per second based on 10 to 15 years of existing information. Various other factors such as size of the branch, the economic implications were also taken into account. Based on our this previous project Nedbank contracted Kestrel Renewable Energy to carry out the installation designed to provide the branch’s full annual electricity demand of 70, 000 kWh.

According to Ciko Thomas, Managing Executive of Consumer Banking for Nedbank Retail, the achievement of Africa’s first fully off-grid bank branch is the direct result of Nedbank’s commitment to applying innovative thinking where such technological advancements become catalysts towards a thriving green economy. In continuing to making banking more accessible to all in South Africa, this commitment also extends to delivering a choice of distinctive banking experiences and relevant products and services to meet the needs of clients at every stage of their lives.

“The off-grid hybrid installation offers proof of what can be achieved when organisations have a genuine vision for, and commitment to, contributing to a greener future for our country,” he explained, “and builds on the similar success we have achieved previously with the implementation of South Africa’s first partially wind-powered bank branch in Du Noon, also in the Western Cape, unveiled in 2010.”

James Carpy, technical director of Kestrel, who designed the system, explains, “There were a number of different options when we first came to the site but we had to work with what was possible. We initially considered using available land nearby the mall to construct much larger wind turbines and then we would need fewer solar panels. This design was in fact requested by Nedbank but when we looked at the costs and what was feasible, the logistics of running power cables through the car park and over the road would have caused quite a bit of disturbance, so we took the decision to use smaller turbines.”

“The three smaller wind turbines, which are manufactured by Kestrel in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape produce power using wind, this combines with solar energy from the solar array on top of the building and it goes directly to the Nedbank branch. Any excess production is allocated to the Lansdowne Corner centre lighting. The system complied with current legislation that no energy is ever exported to the Municipality grid. Each shop has its own electricity meter. What Nedbank has done is to install a meter that is ‘bi-directional’; what that means is that rather than measuring the electricity consumption of one shop, this meter can measure any excess renewable energy being exported to the mall.

Of particular importance was a landlord and mall management that bought into the project, since the Nedbank branch has a small physical footprint and required a much larger portion of the complex’s rooftop to install the 168 PV panels each of 245 W. One of the challenges that did increase the cost of the project was that the roof of the complex was not strong enough to support the PV panels and structures. Work had to be undertaken to strengthen the roof.

An innovative feature of the project is that there are no storage batteries. When the system generate surplus electricity this is supplied to the branch’s mall complex in, which uses it for security and parking lighting. Excess energy production from the system is exported to the mall and any demand not met by the system is supplemented by mains power. It should be noted that the export and import of electricity is within the ambit of the mall and the branch won’t be exporting power to the grid.

http://www.esi-africa.com/hybrid-pv-and-wind-powered-facility/

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