PacB Group // Powering the Future: Exploring the Viability of Solar Systems in Industry


Powering the Future: Exploring the Viability of Solar Systems in Industry

To what degree can solar systems reduce the reliance of industry on Eskom, and can they replace the struggling utility altogether? Industrial electricity users are generally large users of energy, so the degree to which solar systems can power industrial operations depends on several factors, including the energy demand of the specific industry, the space available to them for solar panel installation, and how much solar irradiation the area in which they are situated receives. Solar power can be a significant contributor to meeting industrial energy needs in South Africa, but in most cases, a combination of energy sources is required to power industrial operations fully.


Enhancing Baseload Power with Solar Systems and Storage

An industrialised economy needs a certain minimum level of electrical capacity to function. This is referred to as baseload power. It equates to the minimum level of energy required to meet the continuous demand of an electricity grid. Baseload is generated by utility-scale power plants that operate continuously, ensuring a stable power supply night and day. Baseload power generation traditionally relies on conventional energy resources, including coal, nuclear power, natural gas, and other fossil fuels. They play a vital role in maintaining an efficient electric grid, but they are not designed to respond to peak demand or emergency situations. To address these high-demand periods, separate generation plants, known as peaker plants, are employed to cater for peak power requirements.

Solar systems for electrical energy are not typically considered for baseload power because they suffer from intermittency, which means that they do not contribute power at night or during bad weather. Solar systems still contribute to the overall energy mix. When combined with energy-storage technologies such as batteries, solar systems can provide a more reliable and dispatchable source of energy, enabling them to play a role in baseload power generation.

Renewable energy resources, such as hydroelectric power, geothermal heat, biomass, biogas, and solar systems can be integrated into the baseload energy mix and make the baseload power generation more sustainable and environmentally friendly. For industrial power users, a combination of solar systems, diesel generators, and grid power (when its available) is probably the only realistic option for keeping their operations powered up. While solar power can play a significant role in powering industrial operations, it often needs to be combined with other energy sources and technologies to meet the full energy demand.


Why Solar Systems for Industrial Users?

If solar systems are not well suited for industrial-scale backup power, what are the benefits to industry of grid-tied-embedded solar power generation?

The most significant benefit of industrial solar systems is the potential for cost savings on energy bills. By generating their own electricity from solar power, industrial facilities can reduce their reliance on grid electricity and lower their energy costs. This is especially advantageous for energy-intensive industries, such as smelters, with high electricity consumption. The government provides incentives and tax benefits to encourage businesses to adopt renewable energy solutions, including solar power. Taking advantage of these incentives further enhances the financial viability of industrial solar systems.

Solar power is a clean and renewable energy source that reduces the carbon footprint of industries that adopt it. Utilising industrial solar reduces greenhouse gas emissions, minimises air pollution, and curtails the reliance on fossil fuels. Adopting solar energy demonstrates a company’s commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility. Companies utilising clean renewable energy sources enhance their image, may attract environmentally conscious customers, and improve their public relations efforts. It demonstrates a proactive approach towards reducing their carbon footprint and promoting a greener future.

Industrial solar systems are a long-term investment with attractive financial returns. While the initial capital cost can be significant, solar panels have a long lifespan and require minimal maintenance. Over time, the cost of self-generation of solar power becomes lower than purchasing electricity from the grid, resulting in substantial savings over the system’s lifetime. Whatever portion of the total energy usage of a facility is derived from, the solar system is also not subject to tariff increases from Eskom.

Industrial solar systems provide a degree of energy independence. By generating their own power on-site, businesses become less vulnerable to electricity price fluctuations, grid disruptions, and power outages. Operational resilience is improved and a more reliable power supply for critical processes can be provided.

Industrial solar systems are modular in nature, so they can be customised to meet specific energy requirements and can be scaled up depending on the business’s needs. System flexibility allows businesses to expand their solar capacity as they grow or adjust it based on changes in energy demand.

The advantages of solar power make it an increasingly attractive choice for businesses that want to reduce costs, reduce their environmental impact, and improve their overall energy resilience. Industrial-scale solar power can also be a good financial investment provided the design, installation, and maintenance are done by a company that knows and understands industrial-scale systems and has experience with multi-source power system integration.


With Scale Comes Complexity

With a track record of exceptional service and technical excellence, we at PacB are an industry leader in South Africa’s power-generation industry. Our expertise spans a wide range of energy-generation sources, including renewable energy systems. Our experienced engineers and technicians will create and maintain a robust solution for any industrial power user. Choose us at PacB and avoid the financial and operational risks of a system that does not perform as required. Our reputation and large portfolio of successful commercial and industrial solar systems speaks for itself. We install and maintain all types of renewable energy or hybrid power-generation solutions.

As solar power systems increase in scale, they increase in complexity. The design and integration of the system becomes more challenging. While small residential systems are relatively simple, utility-scale systems that incorporate several energy sources, such as generators and wind turbines, pose technical challenges in design, commissioning, and optimisation. We recognise this complexity and leverage our extensive expertise in large-scale generator integration to provide comprehensive renewable energy solutions, including utility-scale, industrial, commercial, and residential solar installations.

Our team offers technical proficiency and specialised system design for projects spanning from small residential setups to large, utility-scale installations. We excel in creating integrated power solutions that harness the potential of renewables alongside generator technology. Take charge of your power supply. Contact us today for an optimum solution.

Our qualified technicians offer support and advice in the selection of the right power solution for your needs by calculating your power requirements.

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