Hyundai switches to solar

To reduce its carbon footprint and battle the effects of load shedding, Hyundai Automotive South Africa has installed a solar energy system at its parts distribution centre in Germiston.

“A smooth operation at the parts distribution centre is paramount to maintain and improve our on-time parts delivery ratio of 92 percent to our dealer network, a rate that we are very proud of,” says Samuel Matlhola, parts operations director at Hyundai Automotive South Africa. “The installation of the solar photovoltaic energy system, which generates and stores electrical power in a bank of batteries, plays a big role in meeting our target.”

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 tonnes of carbon savings per annum, which will reduce the carbon footprint of the parts distribution centre. “There are other advantages too, such as a saving in electricity costs, which we will benefit from in five or six years’ time when the cost of the investment has been fully recovered.”

Installed at a cost of just over R3 million, the solar photovoltaic project will yield even more savings of carbon emissions once the parts distribution centre is licensed to feed its excess solar-generated energy into the municipal grid.

“If one considers that 58 litres of diesel burned per hour at the centre to generate electricity during load shedding would deliver 150 kg of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, one can see that the benefits of the solar system to the environment are substantial,” says Michael Powell, operations and business development director at AGE Technologies (part of the JSE-listed company 4Sight Holdings), which handled the installation.

He adds that the solar system, with its battery bank, works well to offset the grid maximum-demand-tariff charges during peak times as well.

The battery bank will provide power until about 8am (before sunrise). The solar power then takes over and the batteries will also be charged. In the late afternoon, when the sun sets, and during peak time in the evening (from six to eight at night), the battery bank will again deliver power.

During 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.

“The primary reason for installing this system, however, is that it is the right thing to do, from a sustainability and environmental point of view. We really feel good about it,” Matlhola concludes.

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