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South Africa’s First Solar Powered, Off-Grid Cemetery

Unreliable electricity supply has cost South Africa 10% of GDP – and property developer Calgro M3 is doing something about it by embracing off-grid solar.

In what it describes as a first for South Africa, the company is about to launch a subsidiary that will operate completely off-grid and generate its own renewable energy to power all facets of the business.

Calgro M3’s new venture, Calgro M3 Memorial Parks, focuses on the development of private memorial parks; which will be powered by renewables too. 

Nasrec Private Memorial Park, set to be launched in May 2015, will utilise roof-mounted split solar arrays to charge batteries connected to a UPS Internet-enabled inverter. Each light in the park will be individually solar-powered. The Park will have space for 25,000 grave sites, with future expansion to allow a further 14,500 sites.

The Memorial Parks aren’t Calgro’s first forays into environmentally friendly developments. The company says it was one of the pioneers in constructing green homes that integrate renewable energy and eco-friendly measures.

Calgro M3 was established in 1995 by Derek and Deon Steyn and has a special focus on the rental and social housing (subsidised rental) market. South Africa’s electricity woes are a result of previous failed attempt to deregulate electricity supply while preventing Eskom, the nation’s largest electricity generator, from bringing more capacity online. Rolling blackouts are still commonplace; with Eskom shedding 1,000 megawatts from the electricity grid as recently as this week.

BusinessTech reports a recent presentation by the department of public enterprises to parliament indicated power cuts implemented by Eskom cost South Africa’s economy between $1.7 billion and $6.8 billion a month. Currently, 95% of the country’s electricity is generated by coal-fired power stations; but that will change rapidly in the years ahead as wind and solar power make their mark.

Earlier this month, South Africa’s Minister of Energy, Ms Tina Joemat-Pettersson, said the nation’s Renewable Energy IPP Programme had seen a total of 4,322MW renewables procured in less than four years. 

On April 11, the Department of Energy also issued confirmation letters to preferred bidders for the fourth bid submission phase of the RE IPP Programme; the projects from which would see an additional 1,121 megawatts capacity added to the national grid.

For South Africa, renewables aren’t just a warm and fuzzy concept to placate tree-huggers – it’s vital for the nation’s future.


News item provided courtesy of Energy Matters Australia