The combination of innovative thinking, cost saving and quality focus at one of the Western Cape’s oldest farms is setting it apart in South Africa today as one of the country’s first green – powered fruit farms.
Energyworx, one of the largest integrators of roof-mounted solar electricity in South Africa, has installed a SolarWorld solar power system at Bo-Radyn Boerdery (Pty) Ltd in Villiersdorp. This is set to reduce 20 percent of the energy costs of its fruit packing and cold storage facility and contain rising electricity costs over the 25 year guaranteed lifespan of the system. It generates approximately 162 kWp to ensure the continuous power necessary to maintain the stringent quality control of Bo-Radyn’s fruit destined for the European Union and other global markets.
Says Andre Potgieter, CEO of Energyworx: “A key challenge of this project was that, unlike conventional IBR metal sheet roofing, the solar panels had to be installed on fibre cement roofs. To meet such unconventional challenges, SolarWorld has a range of mounting solutions for any rooftop.”
The innovative roof-top installation comprises 648 Sunmodule plus SW 250 Poly modules with SMA 3 phase grid tied inverters.
Remarks Gregor Küpper, Managing Director of SolarWorld South Africa: “We are delighted that our partner Energyworx has chosen SolarWorld technology for this innovative project to sustain the high quality standards and competitive advantage of Bo-Radyn. This not only builds on its history for innovation in the Villiersdorp region but is setting a national benchmark for sustainable agricultural farming in the 21st century.”
This multi-million Rand state-of-the art system is designed to feed directly into Bo-Radyn’s internal electricity grid, offsetting carbon consumption and replacing approximately 25% of future electricity demand.
Adds Andre Potgieter: “Fruit packing facilities are well suited for solar electricity. They are dependent on cold storage facilities which have load profiles that are a perfect match for solar. During summer, when they need to work the hardest to keep temperatures constant, the solar panels performance are also at their peak, this greatly reduces the high demand that would otherwise be placed on coal-powered electricity.”
Villiersdorp is a picturesque town in the Overberg region which has a Mediterranean climate. Its 10,000 inhabitants are known for deciduous fruit farming and they depend on electricity from Eskom via the Theewaterskloof Municipality for their land irrigation, fruit packing, cold storage and housing facilities. To minimise the growing risks of electricity power cuts, an innovative energy solution had to be found for Bo-Radyn to secure continuous power 365 days a year.
This historic farm plays a key role in the socio-economic development of the Villiersdorp region. It was originally owned by the Dutch East India Company (DEIC) in the 17th century and passed to its name-sake, Jan Radyn in 1720. He grew its reputation for fruit growing, Christian values and self-empowerment programmes. In 1843, the town of Villiersdorp was established on the rest of the original farm of the DEIC.
Today, Bo-Radyn is owned by three Le Roux brothers, Stephanus, Braham and Timo. While Stephanus manages production, Braham oversees the fruit packaging and Timo manages the finance, marketing and human resources. 45 Families live on the farm all-year and during season, its 56 permanent workers grow to 240 workers to cope with full-scale operations.
Explains Timo le Roux: “Everyone is a cog in the wheel of success and our mantra at Bo-Radyn is ‘think or sink’. Sustainability is vitally important to us. Therefore, in addition to cultivating fruit, we pride ourselves on cultivating the power of innovative thinking among management and workers to find solutions to ever-emerging problems. A farm is a universe unto the universe and it is in the interest of farmers globally to take measures to protect the environment, contain our use of non-renewable energy and find ways to sustain our eco-system. Solar electricity was a natural fit for us at Bo-Radyn; to harvest the power of the African sun to drive our innovation and sustainability strategy in the 21st century.”
Bo-Radyn has a holistic sustainability strategy that is designed to secure its human, environmental and financial capital.
Says Andre Potgieter: “Bo-Radyn has a reputation as one of the region’s most well-run farms and a prime exporter of apples, pears and plums to the European Union. Its export logistics is managed by Capespan, and it has to ensure the highest quality standards in its fruit growing, packing and cold storage to meet stringent export requirements.”