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Jun 18, 2018

A village of 67 households at Upper Blinkwater outside Fort Beaufort not due to receive Eskom power in the next 10 years is the beneficiary of a first of its kind mini grid renewable energy system pilot project which should be functional by the end of the year.

The Eastern Cape Rural Development Agency (ECRDA) has funded the first phase of the collaborative multi-stakeholder pilot at a cost of R1,4 million. A ground mounted PV system of 75 kwh power as well as a security fence have already been installed.

“The second phase involves supplying the containers and battery storage facility and diesel generation.  The third phase will be the installation of overhead power lines to each of the households with a smart metre.

“The smart metre regulates the power and warns you timeously when too much power is being used or when there isn’t enough power. This system will be managed by the Raymond Mhlaba Local Municipality and data will be collected by a research team form the University of Fort Hare to determine if the mini grid is a viable option for roll out to other areas,” says ECRDA renewable energy specialist Roger MacLachlan.

MachLachlan says the main objective of the project is to supply households that have no electricity with power and to encourage local enterprises and to make it more attractive for Eskom to supply power as they will only need to erect a supply line to the area because commissioned infrastructure will be to Eskom standards. By the end of 2018 the system will be commissioned and functional.

He says phase two and three will be funded by the Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism and the province of Lower Saxony in Germany.

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