More than 100 years since the town of Kakamas was founded in the Northern Cape by impoverished stock farmers, green energy innovation and local ingenuity are propelling its agricultural economy into the future using solar electricity.
SolarTrends has installed a SolarWorld solar power system at the Kakamas Abattoir and Butchery in the Northern Cape to cater for the growing needs of livestock farmers. This is the biggest privately owned solar array project in the semi-desert Northern Cape region. It is also one of South Africa’s first abattoirs to power its cold storage system with solar electricity.
The system generates approximately 95 kWp and includes 405 Sunmodule Plus SW 250 poly solar modules installed in the field outside the abattoir. It is designed to feed directly into the electricity grid, offsetting approximately 60% of the abattoir’s own electricity consumption yearly over the 25-35 year lifetime of the system.
According to Hendri de Beer, project director of SolarTrends: “The Kakamas Abattoir is used by most of the livestock farmers in the region and continuous energy supply is needed for slaughter as well as cold storage.”
Kakamas Abattoir also has a butchery which sells fresh meat products including beef, lamb and pork. Its produce is destined for local and international markets.
The Kakamas region, known for its dry and hot climate has many livestock farmers who depend on the abattoir as a vital business partner in the cold chain.
Explains Gregor Küpper, Managing Director of SolarWorld Africa: “The Kakamas region has an abundant supply of sun shine, 365 days a year. Because of its remote desert-like location, it is a growth node for the solar industry. We are delighted to have partnered SolarTrends on this innovative project which is setting a new standard for sustainable solar energy in the cold chain of livestock farmers. This project builds on SolarWorld Africa’s many successful projects in the farming industry across Africa.”
In recent years, the growth of the local agricultural and tourism economy has been hampered by power cuts and an innovative energy solution had to be found to preserve the huge quantities of meat in a semi-desert climate.
Says Hendri de Beer: “A key challenge of the project was to minimise the impact of the free-field installation on the logistical requirements of the abattoir’s day-to-day operations. With a road passing through the field for trucks and cars, the placement of the solar panels had to be carefully designed to cater for access, delivery and collection points, areas to turn the trucks around and parking facilities.”
Kakamas was founded in 1898 by impoverished yet ingenious stock farmers who built their own water canals for irrigation using dry piles of stone which can still be seen along the rocky slopes today. In addition to saving considerable costs, the farmers were also able to supply water to surrounding towns. It was here that the water wheel was also perfected as a pumping device. In 1912, Kakamas built its own hydro-electric power station and turbine in the design of an Egyptian pyramid. It generated enough electricity to also provide power to surrounding towns. As a result, Kakamas local economy is a prime exporter of table grapes to Europe and England and its livestock farming is growing.
Concludes Hendri de Beer: “The project has received the approval and active support from the local municipality of Kakamas. It realises that the electricity which becomes available in the grid through the abattoir using solar electricity could be used to support further developments in the community. This project will go a far way to ensuring the continuous growth and innovation among the region’s farming community in the 21st century.”