The new Lynnwood Lane Retail Centre, a retail development from Lynx Property Developers on Lynnwood Road, Pretoria, is now powered by solar energy.

The centre – which includes tenants such as Food Lover’s Market – Nando’s, Westpack Lifestyle and Dischem Pharmacies, has joined a group of forward-thinking retail centres around the country that are harnessing solar energy to limit their environmental footprint and reduce high electricity costs.

A solar photovoltaic system was installed by solar solutions company SolarSaver over 31 days during the construction of the shopping centre. “On the roof, you’ll find 872 solar panels that will produce 1 364 kWh of energy for 22 shops at the centre,” says Lance Green of SolarSaver. “This will go a long way to supplementing the 7 507 kWh of power the retail centre needs to operate on a daily basis.”

Thanks to investment from the Pembani-Remgro group, SolarSaver is able to offer a unique rent-to-own model and installed the full system at zero capital cost for Lynx Property Developers. SolarSaver clients only pay for the cheaper, greener power the system generates, which is fed directly into energy supplies via the grid.

Dirk Nel, Director of Lynx Property Developers, says: “Solar has previously been expensive to install and set-up. This way, our developments can immediately benefit from greener energy, without the capital outlay. With the price of SolarSaver electricity only increasing in line with CIPC costs, we’re less exposed to Eskom’s rising tariffs and we can pass this benefit on to tenants.”

SolarSaver also takes care of vital ongoing cleaning and maintenance of the system, monitoring output and ensuring that the panels operate at peak performance. According to Green, Gauteng-based businesses require more frequent cleaning than coastal businesses due to dusty conditions and pollution.  “While photovoltaic hardware systems are long-lasting, the panels must be kept clean to ensure that the system operates at full capacity,” says Green. “It’s in our interest to ensure that these systems are producing the maximum power possible and cleaning can be expensive. The fact that we take care of all monitoring, cleaning and maintenance is proving to be a huge advantage for clients.”

Lynnwood Lane tenants like Spar Tops are very happy to benefit from reduced costs and greener energy. A number of other Spars in shopping centres, including Tiffany’s in Ballito and Shelly Boulevard on the South Coast, also benefit from the same solution. “It takes the hassle and capital cost out of solar installations and is a great benefit to store owners and landlords alike,” says Green.

While the grid-tied systems do not currently provide power during load-shedding, SolarSaver aims to take most clients off-grid in the future as battery costs come down. “From a business perspective,  retailers have the immediate cost-saving benefit of harnessing solar energy, as well as the benefit of having a solar power supply infrastructure with the potential of going off-grid in the future.”

SolarSaver has completed over 150 installations and now manages the largest fleet of self-financed rooftop installations in Southern Africa, largely in Namibia, with clients from fuel stations to manufacturing businesses to large shopping centres.

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