Power Electronics / Power Management


Toyota plant turns to solar power

28 May 2008 Power Electronics / Power Management

Companies with large industrial plants will benefit from finding alternative energy resources in the face of Eskom's major power shortage. The electricity service provider has requested a reduction in power usage of 10% over all business sectors in order to reduce demand by 3000 Megawatts. Toyota's manufacturing plant in Durban is one of the first to install solar panels.

South Africa's growing economy has put huge strain on electricity usage. South Africa's electricity demand has been increasing at 15% a year, placing considerable strain on existing infrastructure. "We would like to work together with Eskom's new task team to aid in load reduction. This will ensure that our economy does not suffer loss from unnecessary load shedding," says Ferdi de Vos, Toyota spokesperson.

Renewable energy is a reliable alternative to the traditional kind. In 2006, over 18% of global final energy came from renewable sources. By the end of 2008, Toyota will have installed 270 solar panels into its Durban plant. The company's decision to install solar panels will enable it to operate at full capacity while also reducing demand on Eskom.

Where previously Toyota's Prospecton plant in Durban used electricity and gas to heat water, it will now use energy converted from the sun as a source of heat. Solar panels collect and convert energy from the sun into energy and heat that is then used by nearby buildings.

Toyota's renewable energy project began in 2006 with the installation of 44 x 2,5 m² panels and the second phase was completed in June 2007 when 150 panels were installed. In the third phase of this project, Toyota will install a further 120 panels. While the project has cost Toyota R3,5 million, the company expects to save R95 000 per month on energy costs when the project is completed in the next few months.

The car manufacturer will also reduce carbon dioxide released to the atmosphere by approximately 1350 tons per annum. Environmental impact of electricity use in South Africa is a concern which big electricity users like Toyota need to help address.





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