Mall of Africa’s Solar PV system has now entered its sixth month of operation! Covering an area of approximately 45000m² or 4.5ha, this record‐ breaking project is not only the largest rooftop Solar PV system of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere and 10th worldwide, but, as far as can be established this system is also the world’s largest integrated rooftop PV/Diesel hybrid solution.
“The Mall of Africa installation was closely watched by industry players and regulatory bodies alike – as it was the largest rooftop project to be undertaken within South Africa, and as it was a Grid‐Tied solution it meant that Solareff would also be the first to successfully legally synchronise the system with the national grid through Eskom’s Grid Access framework” says Solareff COO DeVilliers Botha.
The process to legally synchronise the system with the national grid took a period of 23 months and included various administrative and technical engagements with both Eskom (the utility) and NERSA (the local energy regulator). On 21 March 2018, Solareff had the honour of energizing the system – making the Mall of Africa Solareff’s landmark site, for legally connecting a rooftop plant on an Eskom connection.
“The Mall of Africa is an Eskom Medium Voltage (MV) customer, which made the application and final connection of the Solar PV system possible under the current Grid Access framework. The Eskom technical application process ensured that additional MV protection was put in place, such as reverse feed blocking, synchronisation checks and upgrading of protection equipment. The solar system is grid‐tied and produces power for self‐consumption; meaning that all of the electricity generated from the sun is utilised during the mall’s seven day a week load profile” explains Botha.
The energy generated by the solution supports the Mall’s day‐to‐day power requirements while decreasing its overall Carbon footprint. The solution is estimated to produce 7 800MWh annually. The resulting reduction in consumption will alleviate pressure on the National Power Grid, allowing for greater available capacity to support the substantial growth currently experienced in the Waterfall area.