SolarWorld Africa has begun installing rooftop solar systems for two major agricultural firms in South Africa, Ceres Fruit Growers and Rooibos.

Both projects are being undertaken with African Technical Innovations as engineering, procurement and construction partner (EPC).

The project for the producers of the speciality tea Rooibos, also known locally as ‘bush tea’, consists of a 511kWp solar power plant on the rooftop of the Rooibos storage facilities in Clanwilliam, Cederberg. The decision to install the plant comes partly to address requirements to monitor and reduce greenhouse gases, which must be done for the company to supply markets in the EU and USA.

According to Martin Bergh, managing director at Rooibos, the installation will supply around 40% of the facility’s electricity. The plant will consist of 2,088 SolarWorld 254W modules that will generate around 875mWh per year, while annual carbon dioxide emissions are expected to fall by around 840.5 tonnes. SolarWorld have guaranteed performance of the system for 25 years.

The system that will be installed at Ceres Fruit Growers, in SolarWorld and African Technical Innovations, announced this week, is expected to be the largest agricultural rooftop array in South Africa when finished. A total of 4,060 SolarWorld SW250 polycrystalline panels will be used on the 1.015MWp plant, which will supply Ceres Fruit Growers’ electrical grid. As with the project at Rooibos, the installation will reduce the carbon footprint of the company, in this case by over 1,622 tonnes each year for the next 25 years. However Francois Malan, managing director at Ceres Fruit Growers also stated in a press release that electricity tariffs for their local supplier Eskom were predicted to rise by as much as 11% each year and that the rooftop power plant would reduce the impact of these rises.

Around 6% of Ceres Fruit Growers' annual electricity consumption will be generated by the plant, approximately 1690MWh out of a total 29700MWh. The company utilises 100 cold storage units for their produce, with premises spanning 54 hectares. The two projects follow closely behind SolarWorld Africa’s installation of a 127kWp plant at South African fruit and juice producer Timberlea Farming Trust, saving 213 tonnes of carbon dioxide per annum.