Electrolux South Africa has embarked on its journey to exit the national electricity grid and move to renewable solar energy, cutting the organisation’s carbon footprint at its local Kwikot water heater (geyser) manufacturing plant by an impressive 40%.
Ughard de Clercq, an engineer at Electrolux South Africa said the organisation was expected to complete the development of a 1 MW solar energy system at its Benoni factory by November 2021. The company says it has invested R16 million in the solar system which it started building in July 2021.
He said the company plans to be climate neutral by 2030 in all its manufacturing operations. The 112 kW solar system, which the firm installed for its offices in 2020, has saved over 96 t of CO2 this year. He said he expects the 1 MW solar system to reduce the firm’s carbon footprint by 40%.
Once completed, the solar system will comprise 1278 solar panels which will power the factory during the day, supplying 80 to 90% of the plant’s energy requirements. The organisation intends to explore the possibility of purchasing renewable energy from Eskom, to meet its night-time electricity requirements, once the parastatal is ready to offer privately produced green energy as an option, de Clercq says. “We did not develop more than 1 MW due to the area of roof space available, and regulations at the time limited the amount of electricity which could generated by a solar system,” he added.
When limits are increased to 100 MW or more, Electrolux would also investigate extending its solar system so that it could sell power back to the electricity grid.
“If the local law and infrastructure allow it, we would want to sell the excess green electricity back into the grid. We would like to be able to help other organisations by supplying them with green energy,” he said.
Electrolux would likely also explore installing smaller solar energy systems at its geyser distribution centres around South Africa.
“We plan in the next two to three years to start reducing the consumption of our fossil fuels by switching from diesel to electric forklifts which can be charged by our solar system,” said de Clercq.
“We are also want to reduce our water consumption in the future by harvesting rainwater to reduce our environmental impact even further,” he added.
This latest investment in solar energy at its local factory was part of the organisation’s global strategy to achieve its ‘better living’ 2030 goal of zero carbon emissions, partially by using renewable energy in production. The investment follows similar solar systems installed at the company’s plants in China, Thailand, and Australia.
“We strive not only to manufacture sustainable products such as our appliances but to manufacture them in a sustainable way. It is important for us to look after the environment and do our part for future generations to come,” commented Murray Crow, Electrolux South Africa’s managing director.
Contact Electrolux, Phone 011 897-4600, www.electrolux.co.za