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All eyes on green energy as listed property fund goes solar


Ascension Properties, a JSE listed property income fund, has gone green with its first solar PV installation in Cape Town, underpinning a move in the property sector to show eco-awareness and reap the financial rewards of green energy over the long term.

The choice was made to use the embedded generation scheme available in Cape Town which will enable the solar installation to feed any surplus electricity, produced by the PV system, back into the municipal electrical grid. 

The move reinforces Ascension’s commitment towards sustainability and environmental awareness amid increasing electricity grid instability and rising electricity costs.

Newly appointed CEO of Ascension, Mr. Kameel Keshav said: “With Ascension’s strong focus on government tenants, we felt it necessary to not only show our commitment to sustainable energy solutions which ease the strain on the national energy grid, but also towards solutions which will bring in healthy returns on investment – for us as well as for our tenants.

“As the price of electricity increases, having alternative and green-focused solutions in place will help reduce overheads. This is a trend which is increasingly becoming recognised throughout the property sector in South Africa.”

The project will result in a minimum yearly avoidance of 230 tonnes of CO2 emissions.  The solar plant comprises of 450 modules totalling 140 kWp, with the rooftop mounted system providing around 235 MWh in the first year, representing around 28% of the electrical consumption of the building.

Solar photovoltaic is simultaneously a very reliable, cost-effective and clean technology, said Cristian Cernat, Director of Tritec South Africa and Voltas Technologies.

“We designed this project from an owner’s perspective; optimising the yield and the financial returns of the project over its 25 years lifetime,” said Cernat.

Rooftop PV solar plants have become a sound investment for many commercial and industrial buildings with the levelized cost of solar energy being lower than the typical purchasing cost of electricity over the next 20 years, he said, adding that such projects decreased the energy operation costs of buildings and added overall value to the properties. 

Furthermore, in the context of high increases of electricity tariffs the price of solar electricity is basically fixed after installation, having low operational costs, thus allowing for more predictable and stable energy operation costs for the coming years, Cernat added.

Installation commenced in  November, and will reach completion at the end of the year (2015). 

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