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One of SA�s largest SWH projects rolled out at platinum mine

Solar water heater (SWH) products and services provider Solar Heat has rolled out one of South Africa’s largest SWH installations at the change houses at Anglo Platinum’s Brakfontein shaft, which is currently being commissioned.

Solar Heat said that the platinum miner’s change houses at the Brakfontein shaft, in the Limpopo province, has a capacity of 42 000 litres.

Solar Heat Exchangers spokesperson Dylan Tudor-Jones explained that 270 flat plate solar thermal collectors were distributed over three separate roofs, which were purpose designed to carry the extra load. The solar system pre-feeds a 28 000 litre conventional system with electrical backup. Overall, the solar system is sized to provide hot water needs for a full day, with the backup system being designed to heat the required amount of water between shifts in the event of bad weather.

Brakfontein shaft section engineer PG Masondo said that the facility could accommodate about 1 500 miners and officials concurrently, split between each of the three change houses. Masondo added that end users of the facility perceived “no difference” in the quality of the hot water energy service and the fact that it is provided from renewable energy is of little consequence to them. “The real benefits for the shaft lie in the significant cost savings,” said Masondo.

The use of solar energy to heat the water required was estimated to reduce the shaft’s energy requirement by about 421,54 MWh a year. In addition to cost savings, this resulted in green house gas emission reductions of 446,83 t/y.

The use of solar water heating at Brakfontein falls in line with Angloplat’s broader sustainability strategy. “We have a comprehensive energy efficiency programme whereby we are continually assessing ways of reducing our usage of electricity” said Angloplat sustainability manager Stephen Bullock.

“Anglo Platinum has publicly committed to reducing its energy consumption per unit of production by 15% of the 2004 baseline year by 2014. In addition, Anglo Platinum has also committed to reducing their carbon-dioxide emissions by 10% per unit of production by end 2014. This solar energy project is one of the projects that will help us achieve these targets and if successful this type of technology will most certainly be rolled out to other facilities and operations in the Group,” added Bullock.

Angloplat announced plans to expand its Lebowa platinum mining operation in 2006, which included the establishment of the Brakfontein shaft. Energy efficiency was a core component of the sustainability agenda and the shaft facilities were specified with solar water heating in the design phase.


Energy efficiency was proving a cross-cutting imperative across all sectors of the economy, and Solar Heat also recently installed a 6 000 litre SWH system at the newly built Southern Sun StayEasy Emalahleni Hotel in Witbank

This supplemented a 6 000 litre heat pump system. G K Pereira Consulting designed the reticulation for the installation. Consultant Gavin Pereira described the heat pump system as a good option for “topping up” the 60 ºC hot water system when no solar contribution was available.

Tudor-Jones designed and installed the solar hot water system, and said that the solar components have reduced the peak electrical load needed for the provision of hot water by 70 kVA.

Roof space was a limiting factor in that no more than 40 solar collectors could be installed. This limited the capacity of the solar component of the system to 6 000 litres.

Southern Sun development director Mark Boyd said that the company would always incorporate green features into its hotels going forward. He added that other green features that have been implemented at the hotel include the use of low energy lights in the form of light emitting diodes (LEDs) in areas like passages where lighting is a requirement 24/7, presence detection lighting in back of house areas, automatic shut-off of lights and air-conditioning in empty rooms, elements of energy efficient building design in new and retrofitted buildings, heat recovery systems and grey water re-use.

Boyd noted that in the hospitality industry, about 40% of the total energy consumption of an operation was attributed to water heating.

The 70 kVA saving at the StayEasy Emalahleni Hotel at peak water heating times would translate into the prevention of the emission of 70 kg of carbon dioxide an hour.

StayEasy Emalahleni Hotel deputy general manager Sarah Mohapi said that guests were advised upon checking-in of the solar hot water system and other green features of the hotel. “Guests respond very positively to the green features of the hotel,” said Mohapi.

By Christy van der Merwe

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