January 2023.

Following a pilot project at De Aar Solar Power, power generation from solar PV projects is further reducing its environmental impact.

Solar PV projects have a negligible effect on avifauna and boast the added benefit of not using water during power production, however, solar power plants have traditionally washed their solar panels, which uses scarce water supplies in South Africa’s drought-prone areas. Hence, a study was piloted at De Aar Solar Power four years ago to ascertain the impact of doing away with panel washing, testing to see how it would affect power production – and the results have been very pleasing.

“We have implemented a number of interventions across our six solar projects in South Africa to further minimise the impact of renewable energy power on the surrounding biodiversity and environment and are happy to note that we’ve decided to forgo the excessive quantities of water used in panel washing,” said Marli Schoeman, Environmental Specialist for Globeleq South Africa Management Services and De Aar Solar Power.

Following this pilot study, it was decided to follow suit at the company’s sister solar projects across the Northern Cape, Free State and Limpopo, resulting in massive water savings.

“Everyone assumes we wash the panels regularly, but we have discovered that rainfall is sufficient to wash the panels. Approximately 1.5 million litres of water are saved per year at De Aar Solar Power through this initiative and we haven’t washed panels in the last four years,” concluded Schoeman.

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