Hyundai Automotive South Africa has installed a solar energy system at its Parts Distribution Centre which reduces its carbon footprint and its dependency on municipal power, and thus also minimise exposure to load shedding.
The solar photovoltaic (PV) project, installed at a cost of just over R3 million, generates electricity for the Parts Distribution Centre in Germiston which handles more than 450 shipping containers of car parts per year and keeps stock worth R 100 million in its warehouse.
“A smooth operation at the Parts Distribution Centre is paramount to maintain and improve our on-time parts delivery ratio of 92% to our dealer network, which we are very proud of. The installation of the solar photovoltaic energy system, which generates and stores electrical power in a bank of batteries, plays a big role to keep to our target,” says Samuel Matlhola, parts operations director at Hyundai Automotive South Africa.
Matlhola, who is the initiator of the solar energy project, says one of the many benefits of the system is the fact that it will yield favourable tons of carbon savings per annum which will reduce the carbon footprint of the Parts Distribution Centre. “There are other benefits too, such as a saving in electricity costs, which we will really benefit from in five or six years’ time when the cost of the investment has been fully recovered.”
He foresees that the estimated six-year term for the investment to be recovered can be reduced by a year once the Parts Distribution Centre is licensed to feed back excess solar energy generated during the sunshine days into the municipal grid. This will also yield additional savings of carbon emissions.
“However, the primary reason for installing this system is that it is the right thing to do, from a sustainability and environmental point of view. We really feel good about it,” says Matlhola.
The large roof area of the Parts Distribution Centre’s warehouse was the perfect place to install the solar panels, which deliver power in direct current to an inverter, where it is transformed to alternating current for use in the centre.
The system was installed by AGE Technologies, which is part of the JSE-listed company 4Sight Holdings. Michael Powell, operations and business development director of AGE Technologies, explained that the solar system with its battery bank works well to offset the grid maximum demand tariff charges during peak times.
While the sun is still rising or it is still dark in winter, the battery bank will provide power until about 8 a.m., then the solar power takes over and the batteries will also be charged. Late afternoon when the sun sets and during peak time in the evening, from 6 to 8 p.m., the battery bank will again deliver power.
During the off-peak time at night, when power from the grid is at its cheapest rate, the batteries will be charged from the grid to provide power the following morning when peak time starts and electricity from the grid becomes expensive.
“If one considers that 58 litres of diesel burnt per hour at the centre to generate electricity during load shedding would deliver 150 kg of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the benefits of the solar system to the environment is substantial,” said Powell.
He estimates the financial saving in the first year of operation to be about R450 000, escalating every year to yield an accumulated saving of R6 million plus after 15 years.
Niall Lynch, CEO of Hyundai Automotive SA, said the project at the Parts Distribution Centre will serve as a pilot study for possible wider implementation in the Hyundai network and at Hyundai dealerships in South Africa.
“We are very proud of what Samuel, his team at the Parts Distribution Centre and AGE Technologies have implemented. The installation of the solar power system indicates that Hyundai really gives practical meaning to one of its core values, which is environmentally sustainable and responsible business practices,” said Lynch.