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BMW South Africa invests in solar water heating system

By: Christy van der Merwe
12th October 2010

Automotive manufacturer BMW South Africa (BMW SA) has invested in a 6 500 l/day solar water heating installation, as it continues to progress with energy efficiency and cleaner production initiatives.

The system provides hot water for the main canteen at the company's plant in Rosslyn.

The installation, which was designed by Voltas Technologies and installed by Luft Technik, consists of 37 evacuated tube collectors, which generate 83% of the total energy requirement for water heating in the canteen.

Previously, the water was heated using natural gas and it is expected that using the solar system will displace the use of 13 921 m3/y of natural gas. Further, the avoided carbon dioxide emissions will be 27 437 kg/y.

The system has been specifically designed with provisions for expansion in future, and could also be connected to an absorption chiller, which would enable the system to produce hot water for cooling requirements.

"Investing in energy efficiency has long-term financial benefits. It is tied in to our strategy of EfficientDynamics in cars and CleanProduction," emphasised BMW SA energy manager TM Lesetla.

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Netcare invests R1,6m in solar water heating for Gauteng hospital

By: Christy van der Merwe
27th November 2009

Private hospital group Netcare has made its third and largest investment in renewable energy at the Union Hospital in Gauteng, where a R1,6-million, 18 500-l solar water heating system was commissioned early in November.

Considering the future electricity tariff increases proposed, Netcare national technical manager Peter Schilder, expects a payback period of three years, which came down from an initial estimate of about four years. The return on investment would then continue, as the solar water heating installation has a life expectancy of about 20 years, with savings over the life cycle of up to R24-million.

"We did an extensive survey before we did the installation. We probably looked at between 12 and 15 suppliers. It took us almost a year to decide on the current supplier, and it was primarily based on a return on investment. I think it is important when one engages in environmental diversification of energy, that it has got to make financial sense," adds Schilder.

"To strive for sustainability at all costs is perhaps not the best way to do things," says Schilder, adding that functionality is imperative, followed by financial matters, and the quality of installation and materials are also important while considering environmental benefits. Eskom, through its demand-side management programme, also wants to incentivise commercial solar water heating installations and the rebate expected from the utility is
about R210 000.

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Solar energy powers SA hospital airconditioning system

By: Christy van der Merwe
13th October 2009

Johannesburg-based renewable energy company Voltas Technologies has installed, and is monitoring, a solar-thermal driven air-conditioning system at the Netcare Moot hospital, in Pretoria.

"It is an important time for us in South Africa - we are starting to see some movement in solar technologies as people become more open to the idea," explains Voltas Technologies director Cristian Cernat.

He adds that the government stance on renewable energy is encouraging, particularly with the regulator's recent release of the renewable energy feed-in-tariff, and consumers have more confidence in the technologies and the benefits.

The solar plant is situated on the roof of the Moot hospital, and the air-conditioning absorption chiller unit is powered by hot water, which is heated through 50 collectors. These solar collectors operate at 91% efficiency, and the water can reach temperatures of
up to 120 ºC.

Voltas explains that the absorption chiller is powered by solar energy collected in the evacuated tube solar thermal panels. The thermal energy is delivered to the absorption chiller using a Glycol (antifreeze) solution and a simple, but carefully designed, system of pipes, pumps and controllers.

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Solar powered air conditioning

By: Peter Middleton
December 2008

“According to the Energy Research Council at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, operating commercial buildings consumes a sixth of all the energy used in the eastern world. Air conditioning accounts for as much as a third of that total. MechTech talks to Cristian Cernat, the director of Voltas Technologies about the possibilities offered by combining solar power with low temperature absorption chillers to achieve substantial energy efficiency gains. (...)” See article

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