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Using shade to produce solar energy

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GeoSolar, part of the GeoGroup, recently personified “out-of-the-box” thinking, when it turned an original invention for shade into a source of solar power.
For more than 100 years, the chief purpose of carports has been to shield vehicles from the harsh sun. Today, carports are a common structure at corporate office blocks and complexes throughout South Africa.
“We decided to cover 240 square metres of carport roofing at our GeoSolar premises in Johannesburg with solar panels, with the aim of absorbing the abundance of rays available during day and converting these into an alternative power source for the company,” says Dave Rossiter, MD of GeoGroup.
At the core of the GeoSolar carport solution is a Schneider Electric specified solar system, Context CL, which was deployed by Clever Devices & Designs (CDD), a registered Schneider Electric systems integrator and member of the Sustainable Energy Society of Southern Africa (SESSA).
Leon Hailstones, channel manager for Schneider Electric’s rooftop and off-grid solar products in southern Africa, points out that the Context CL three-phase inverter has proven to the ideal solution for commercial buildings, carports and decentralised power plants. “The Conext CL Series is our new line of three phase string inverters designed for high efficiency, maximum flexibility and easy installation and service. Its electrolyte-free design with Schneider Electric’s rigorous reliability test procedures improve the long term reliability,” he continues.
The system offers five configuration options of integrated wiring box, which allow for easy, flexible and low cost installations, as well as a decentralised architecture, full grid support features and system capability.
The GeoSolar carport installation was completed using an aluminium-glazed carport mounting system.
According to Rossiter, the company will now use this flagship project to promote carport solar systems throughout South Africa. “A carport structure is a necessity in the harsh South African climate to protect both employees and visitors’ vehicles. It is an added bonus that this necessary structure offers the ideal platform from which to achieve noteworthy cost saving on a building’s electricity bill. We are most pleased with the tangible results we have achieved and look forward to offering this solar solution throughout the country – elevating the ‘simple’ carport structure from sun protector to solar energy creator,” he says.
Rossiter highlights that the company decided on a Schneider Electric solar system not only for its excellent quality, but also because it offers a comprehensive nationwide back-up and accountability for warranty claims.
“In the fast evolving and emerging solar market, where suppliers come and go, customers need to choose a committed partner with a proven track record; a bankable partner. With a strong background in the solar industry and expertise in energy management, Schneider Electric technology is already powering photovoltaic installations of all kinds, all around the world. Together with a comprehensive portfolio of balance-of-system solutions, backed by a global service network, we can help you gain a distinct competitive advantage, for the long-term,” concludes Hailstones.