Solar panels in Africa has been used in various sizes. For many residential homes, small solar panels are common while for commercial spaces, sizeable solar panels have been installed.
All these are now a small drop in the ocean after one of Africa’s biggest malls, Mall of Africa, installed the largest rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) system. It covers 45 000 m² and generates 4 755 kW to power the operations of the mall, which offers 130 000 m2 of retail space.
The installation is set to ease the burden on the national grid to allow support to the Waterfall area in Johannesburg, where the mall is located.
“In the month that saw South Africa’s government launch an Integrated Resource Plan with a clear prioritisation of renewable energy as the path to our country’s energy security, we are thrilled to be announcing our own innovation in renewable energy generation…This project will see the mall producing sufficient power to support its day-to-day electricity requirements while also decreasing its overall carbon footprint, another significant point in our sustainability journey,” Michael Clampett, the head of retail asset management at Attacq, which jointly owns the mall with Atterbury.
The solar roof is also believed to be the world’s first integrated solar power-diesel hybrid system. It also aims at reducing the mall’s carbon print, including savings of 8034 tons of CO2, 4394.36 tons of coal and 157 fewer coal trucks on the road annually.
According to Solareff CEO, the system is estimated to be able to produce 7 800 MWh annually.
“[We] successfully worked through the lengthy legal process, together with Nersa and Eskom, to ensure full legal compliance for this solution – the first of its size in South Africa,” he said.
Quite a number of malls across Africa have installed solar panels not only on their roofs but also across their parking lots. Other countries have set off solar projects for classrooms, airports and warehouses. Many others are looking to establish large-scale solar projects to not only provide electricity to natives but also to reduce carbon footprint and ease pressure on the national grid.
Just recently a Ghanaian entrepreneur, Salma Okonkwo, announced plans to build one of the biggest solar farms from the African continent. The Blue Power Energy, located in the northern part of Ghana, is expected to begin operations in March 2019, producing 100 megawatts of energy.
Eritrea is also set to launch two solar hybrid power systems to provide grid-quality electricity to the towns of Areza and Maidma, where there is no grid power at all. Over 40,000 people are set to benefit from this project.
In December 2017, Burkina Faso launched its biggest solar plant, located on a 55-hectare piece of land in Zagtouli on the environs of the capital, Ouagadougou. The plant is expected to generate at least 33 megawatts per day, to power tens of thousands of households.
Here’s how Africa’s biggest solar roof looks like: