floating solar

Potential of Floating Solar PV Plants in Southern Africa

Potential of Floating Solar PV Plants in South Africa

Over the last several years, large-scale solar PV plants have been installed to take advantage of the significant opportunity that solar power generation presents. Installations at this scale are happening internationally, regionally, as well as here in South Africa. Floating solar PV plants are a fairly new concept compared to the traditional ground-mount or roof-top solar PV plant setup. While interest and implementation of these systems are growing internationally, the local market is yet to fully tap and explore the tremendous benefits this configuration can bring.

floating solar

Source: ESI Africa

What Is a Floating Solar PV Plant?

A floating solar PV plant, as the name suggests, consists of a PV system floating on the surface of a water body. Most of the current applications of this emerging technology have used water bodies such as dams, quarry lakes, drinking water reservoirs, canals, and ponds.

The floating plant itself consists of a floating system or pontoon, which is the underlying structure and floating system upon which PV modules are installed. There is also a mooring system which fixes the floating system to a point at the bottom of the water body or anchored to the shore to prevent free movement. As with a solar land plant, there is also the solar PV DC cabling and power conversion equipment, and finally, AC cabling for power to be transferred to land. In this case, the cable can either be an underwater cable or a floating power line. The exact setup of the plant is determined by various factors such as water level fluctuations and wind load.

floating solar

Source: ESMAP

Between 2007 and 2014, several small-scale research floating solar PV plants were built, with the first one being in Japan in 2007. In 2008, California had the first commercial floating PV plant with a 175 kWp system. Floating solar PV plants are gaining traction, with Asia leading in installations. The floating solar market has tremendous potential to double the existing installed solar PV capacity by capitalizing on 400,000 square kilometers of man-made reservoirs globally by up to 400 GW. This is according to a World Bank Report called “Where Sun meets Water.”

Because the floating power plant is still in its infancy, industry standards and best practices are still in the works. DNV GL, an international accredited registrar and classification body, is at the forefront of a floating solar joint industry project working with stakeholders to develop a best practices guide by 2021.

Advantages of Floating Solar PV Plants

Why go through all the complexities of setting up a solar power plant on water? There are numerous advantages to this emerging application. Here are the main ones:

  • When existing water reservoirs are used, valuable land is freed up for other purposes such as for agricultural land or residential developments
  • Setting up a floating solar plant is a much faster and easier process. The process of land acquisition for developing a plant is often prolonged and complicated. Additionally, the installation itself takes longer to deploy as geotechnical studies and foundations are required for sub-surface conditions. Not having to do a large land installation is beneficial to soil and water conservation efforts.
  • A power plant on the surface of a water body results in reduced evaporation, which can be vital in areas where water is a scarce resource. This is a significant advantage to a water-scarce country like South Africa
  • The combination of hydropower and solar power plants is a cost-effective strategy for allocating new PV plants. Hydropower generation is increased by reduced evaporation, which has been a major challenge in these plants. Floating solar PV can increase the capacity factor of a hydropower plant by 50- 100%.
  • A floating solar power plant can generate more electricity than traditional ground-mounted and rooftop systems, about 7-14% more. This is because the water has a cooling effect, which reduces the operating temperature and increases the solar panel efficiency. Another possible contributor to the increased output is that there is less settled dust on the PV modules.
  • Floating plants can improve the quality of water by creating a sunlight barrier that prevents the photosynthesis and growth of algae in water bodies.
  • The cost of the solar mounting system is greatly reduced in a floating setup compared with land-based systems that require steel sub-structures and often concreted foundations.
  • It is much easier to wash the plant and its components in a floating system. Additionally, the large volumes of cleaning water used in a floating are reused, leading to operational & maintenance cost savings.
  • Floating PV plants are compatible with aquaculture and can be set up on an aquaculture reservoir or a fish pond, which benefits aquatic production.
  • Floating PV plants are attractive and can bolster the scenery and touristic appeal of an area.

Floating solar PV plants open up a world of possibility because they can be set up on any water bodies and greatly increase the solar power generation capacity. While the advantages of the floating system are numerous, large scale rollout does present its own unique set of challenges.

Strong winds can hamper floating PV panels. The mooring system must be strong enough to resist these. Stronger supports are being developed to address this challenge. In the long-term, further research will have to be done on the ecological impact on affected water bodies. Where saltwater is used, the damage from this must be evaluated. Finally, more information must be disseminated about the installation and maintenance of floating plants as well as best practices. As mentioned, a best practice guide is already in development, which is good news for the Southern African solar PV industry in the middle to long term.

floating solar

Source: Saur Energy


The Opportunity in Southern Africa

While the application of floating PV plants is fairly new, it continues to grow internationally. Many benefits can be achieved by adopting this technology in Southern Africa. In many parts of the country, water shortages and scarcity have affected normal living, especially in drought-affected areas like the Western Cape in South Africa. Floating power plants can be combined with water reservoirs to reduce evaporation losses.

Innovative solutions for the electricity generation challenges in the nation are always needed. Making using of the floating plant systems can scale up the rollout of solar PV and improve the output of hydropower stations. Floating plants are also a quicker route than the land acquisition channel, and they free up land for agriculture and other uses.


Contact Us

Contact the Zero Point Energy team to see how best we can help you make the move to reliable, renewable and self-sufficient energy.

Landline: +2710 593 4449 | Whatsapp: +27605218388 | info@zpenergy.co.za | TW & IG: @zeropointSA | www.zpenergy.co.za

Zero Point Energy (Pty) Ltd is a proudly South African sustainable engineering company that provides professional engineering consulting & turn-key solutions in the areas of energy efficiency, renewable energy, off-grid and energy storage solutions, water efficiency and responsible waste management. The company is a 100% black youth-owned, 30% black female-owned company achieving a Level 1 BBBEE Contributor status, and has a passion to transform the energy industry without compromising on safety, quality and client satisfaction.  Learn more about the company’s team here

ZPE ITS solar heat pumps

ZPE Partnership with ITS Solar – South Africa’s leading heat pump supplier

Energy efficient water heating solutions

In our continuous quest to revolutionize Africa’s sustainability, we are excited to announce our new partnership with South Africa’s leading heat pump supplier ITS.

Zero Point Energy is now an accredited partner, installer and system integrator of the ITS range of industrial, domestic and pool heat pumps. Combined with our strong engineering and project management track record to date, this partnership enhances our value proposition to clients by allowing us to further optimise and broaden our integrated sustainability solutions offering.

Water heating is often the highest energy consumer at most premises. Combining heat pumps into your integrated energy efficiency journey will result in a reliable, guaranteed and renewable approach to energy and cost savings.


ZPE ITS solar heat pumps

Contact us today to assess, design and install your next energy efficient water heating and integrated renewable energy solutions:

Landline: +2710 593 4449 | Whatsapp: +27605218388 | info@zpenergy.co.za | TW & IG: @zeropointSA | www.zpenergy.co.za

Zero Point Energy (Pty) Ltd is a proudly South African sustainable engineering company that provides professional engineering consulting & turn-key solutions in the areas of energy efficiency, renewable energy, off-grid and energy storage solutions, water efficiency and responsible waste management. The company is a 100% black youth-owned, 30% black female-owned company achieving a Level 1 BBBEE Contributor status, and has a passion to transform the energy industry without compromising on safety, quality and client satisfaction.  Learn more about the company’s team here

#heatpumps #energyefficiency #energysaving #costsaving #sustainability #greenenergy #renewableenergy #solarpower


What You Should Know About the Tesla Powerwall 2 Energy Storage System

What You Should Know About the Tesla Powerwall 2 Energy Storage System


Source: Electrek

Tesla’s Powerwall 2 Battery System is a residential energy storage solution. It utilizes the company’s advanced lithium-ion battery technology as well as internet connectivity to deliver customers with a robust energy solution with wide applications in the smart home.

Most people know about Tesla from their pioneering work in electric vehicles. Beyond their automotive products, the company has expanded the applications of their battery technology to include residential and commercial energy storage products. Founded in 2003, the company continues to make strides towards its mission, which is “to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.” As the market for solar energy continues to grow, Tesla has also positioned itself and its products to maximize this clean and renewable energy source to solve energy problems around the world.

Source: CleanTechnica

 What is the Powerwall 2?

The Powerwall 2 Battery System or Powerwall 2 is the residential version of Tesla’s Powerpack energy storage product for commercial use. The pilot of the product was released in 2015 and the second generation was announced in 2016. Production takes place at the Gigafactory 1 in Nevada, USA.

The Powerwall 2 is an energy storage unit that can be mounted to a wall or to the ground. It is suitable for outdoor installation as it can handle temperature extremes on either end in the range of -20°C to 50°C, although the optimal range is between 0°C and 30°C. The unit is also water-proof. As you would expect from a Tesla product, the unit itself is designed very well and is also modern-looking. The slim product measures 1150 mm x 755 mm x 155 mm and weighs 122 kg.

Source: Tesla

The Powerwall 2 contains rechargeable lithium-ion batteries allowing the unit to store electricity from the grid or from an installed solar PV system. The applications of this product include solar self consumption, a backup power source during outages and for off the grid use.

Solar self-consumption is the act of using your solar energy to run devices within your home or business. Provided you have a net (aka bi-directional) energy meter, this will happen automatically when appliances are switched on in your home while your solar system is producing energy.

Lithium-ion batteries have a number of important advantages, making them the fastest growing battery technology on the market. For one, they are rechargeable. They have potential for high storage capacity and require very low maintenance. When new, these batteries do not require much priming. Compared with the widely used nickel-based batteries, lithium-ion batteries have half the self-discharge rate, meaning lower energy losses.

Energy is stored as DC power in the Powerwall 2 batteries and must be converted to AC power by the built-in inverter before it can be used by devices in the home. Each Powerwall has a usable capacity of 13.5 kilowatt-hours per unit, and for additional storage capacity, multiple units can be purchased and connected in parallel. The inverter also functions in the reverse to convert AC to DC power when the batteries are being charged. With a round-trip inverter efficiency of 90%, power lost in the trip to be stored in the unit and back out for usage equates to 10%.  The full owner’s manual contains the details of the product and its operation.

Connectivity and the Mobile App

 Along with the battery unit, comes the Powerwall Backup Gateway 2 which is the energy storage unit’s connection to the internet. This stays up-to-date with what is happening in the news, the area, and the weather concerning prices, policies, and any other factors that impact residential energy storage, particularly from solar PV systems. In the Tesla app, users of any of the company’s products from electric vehicles to storage units can keep track of key metrics and change a wide range of settings around how the product is used.

The Tesla app has impressive visuals and allows owners of the Powerwall 2 to:

  • View the current state of charge
  • Monitor energy flow (this happens between the Powerwall 2 and the rooftop solar PV units, the grid and the home appliances)
  • See detailed metrics and graphics for each energy source
  • Select between the different operating modes (Self-powered, Backup Only, Advanced Time-Based Control as well as special modes such as Grid Services, Storm Watch, and Preconditioning)

Source: Tesla

Advantages of the Powerwall 2

The Powerwall 2 is the energy-conscious resident’s answer to a self-powered home. There are a number of comparative energy storage solutions already on the market. With more and more people looking for backup solutions to withstand power outages and loadshedding, generators and other battery storage solutions are often used.

The Powerwall 2 is an investment that comes with some notable benefits. These include:

  • High energy storage capacity that can be combined with a solar PV system to reduce reliance on the grid in a self-powered home.
  • Energy stored from solar during the day is a great backup to power home at night or during loadshedding or an outage
  • The unit is well-designed and compact. It is safe for indoor or outdoor installation and allows easier integration because of its built-in inverter.
  • Although there is a high initial investment, it is worthwhile. You can reduce your monthly electricity bill.
  • Connectivity allows for over-the-air updates for new features and functions.
  • The Tesla app gives you more control and insight into your home energy use in real-time.

With the Powerwall 2, home owners can enjoy greater control over their energy use and withstand fluctuations in the grid power supply. Combining this storage unit with a solar PV system is a great choice that ultimately leads to monthly electricity bill savings as well.

Contact Us

tesla certified installer

As a Tesla Powerwall 2 certified Installer, use our free online Tesla system sizer and cost estimator here, or contact the Zero Point Energy team to see how best we can help you make the move to reliable, renewable and self-sufficient energy.

+27605218388 | info@zpenergy.co.za | @zeropointSA | www.zpenergy.co.za

Zero Point Energy (Pty) Ltd is a proudly South African sustainable engineering company that provides professional engineering consulting & turn-key solutions in the areas of energy efficiency, renewable energy, off-grid and energy storage solutions, water efficiency and responsible waste management. The company is a 100% black youth-owned, 30% black female-owned company achieving a Level 1 BBBEE Contributor status, and has a passion to transform the energy industry without compromising on safety, quality and client satisfaction.  Learn more about the company’s team here


tesla powerwall2 zero point energy

Zero Point Energy now a Tesla Powerwall 2 Certified Installer in South Africa

The Team at Zero Point Energy is excited to announce that we have recently been vetted, trained and accredited by Tesla as a Tesla Powerwall Certified Installer for South Africa.

You can rely on Powerwall to reduce your reliance on the grid and to power your home with renewable energy that you control.

With increased Eskom load shedding and electricity tariff increases, combined with solar PV and battery technology improvements and cost reductions, there is no better time to consider solar and energy storage for your home!

Utilise our free online Tesla Powerwall 2 system sizer to get an indicative cost here , or contact us at teslapowerwall@zpenergy.co.za for any technical or pricing queries.

#energystorage #solarpv #renewableenergy #tesla #powerwall2 #batterystorage #lithiumion #southafrica


ZPE achieves Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA) Membership

Zero Point Energy has been granted Professional Electrical Engineering Membership of Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA).

CESA is the custodian of well-being in the South African consulting engineering industry, with members compelled to subscribe to upholding the integrity of the industry by adhering to a professional code of ethics providing quality and cost effective professional consulting engineering services.

Niche engineering credentials

As one of only 3x EME electrical consulting engineering firms in the country that have 100% black and considerable female ownership, we are proud of this empowering achievement to date. Beyond this, we strive to maintain and improve upon our quality & customer-centered electrical consulting engineers and project management services to our valued clients.

Contact us at info [at] zpenergy.co.za for more information or to get in touch for your next project

#CESA #engineering #professionalengineer #consultingengineering #PrEng #electricalengineering #consultingengineers

zpe consulting engineering

ZPE Pan-African Engineering & Design Consulting Services Update

ZPE Pan-African Engineering & Design Consulting Services Update

Zero Point Energy has executed over 25x concept engineering & design packages for Africa-focused solar PV and micro-grid developers & IPPs in the past year. We are proud to have helped several of our clients win competitive tenders using the latest technology & optimally designed solutions for sub-Saharan Africa.

Service Offering

Our service offering across utility-scale, commercial & industrial solar PV and Li-On battery storage projects include:

1. PVSyst, PVSol, & Homer Pro design simulation studies

2. Energy resource, bankable yield, 3D shading, & related techno-economic assessment reports & studies

3. Single line diagrams, detailed plant layout drawings, key equipment selection & specification, overhead line, generator integration and substation design drawings

4. Utility interconnection applications and electricity tariff analysis

5. Development of bill of quantities, project schedules, project cost estimates, and other electrical deliverables required

6. Pr.Eng certified electrical engineers, ISO 9001-aligned QMS design processes, professional CAD capabilities and document control.

Contact us today to see how we can assist your team succeed on your next energy project: info@zpenergy.co.za +27605218388

zpe consulting engineering

#engineering #design #solarpv #energystorage #africa #CAD #pvsyst #homer #pvsol #SLDs #electricalengineering

battery solar container

Custom Containerised Solar PV + Battery Storage Solutions for Africa

Custom Containerised Solar PV + Battery Storage Solutions for Africa

Our custom-designed solar PV & battery storage containerised solutions are engineered for Africa, but designed & built locally in Johannesburg.

This current pair of retro-fitted shipping container systems were designed for AC-coupled solar PV minigrid integration, taking our electricity-intensive client off-grid using advanced lithium-ion battery technology and top tier inverter, solar and monitoring equipment with lifespan guarantees ranging from 10 to to 25 years.

In addition to being designed as a plug-and-play system once dropped down at any urban or rural site, we’ve spec’d these units to have remote monitoring capability, thermal insulation, on-site access security control, alarm & fire prevention systems, small power & lighting, comprehensive earthing as well as air-conditioning.

Civil site works currently underway to allow deployment next week. Our team is looking forward to testing & commissioning these systems!


battery solar container

#Africa #renewableenergy #energystorage #solarPV #containers #minigrid #offgrid #ruralelectrification #design #engineering #johannesburg #electricity #batterystorage #lithiumion

victron residential post covid

First Post COVID-19 Lockdown Installation

First Post COVID-19 Lockdown Installation

Our first Level 3 residential battery backup system completed post lockdown in South Africa. Good to be back on sites again helping our customers take control of their electricity supplies and to beat any imminent load shedding.

This system was designed to include a top-of-the-range 6.5kW battery inverter and 10.5kWhr of lithium-ion batteries, sufficient to run a 4 bedroom house for well over 12 hours, with battery life guaranteed to last over 10 years.

Also includes remote monitoring to control and visualize energy usage from the palm of our client’s hand via a mobile app interface.

victron residential post covid

#eskom #covid19 #batterystorage #inverter #victronenergy #lithiumionbatteries #loadshedding


How can we save energy, jobs and costs in Southern Africa post COVID-19?

How can we save energy, jobs and costs in Southern Africa post COVID-19?

The current COVID-19 global pandemic will have far-reaching effects on economies and livelihoods all over the world for a long time to come. As South Africa gradually enters a post-lockdown period, bold and drastically different solutions will be needed to reboot the economy. The power supply challenges of yesterday are not yet behind us, and a shift is required in how we approach power generation and renewable energy. Various sustainability projects can be implemented at a national, local, commercial, and residential level to ease some of the current burdens on resources as we move into a post-COVID-19 South Africa.

covid-19 africa

Source: Center for Global Development

Impact of the Pandemic

The novel coronavirus has affected the entire nation, with thousands already infected by the disease. The government, aided by the health sector, is doing all that it can to contain the virus. Measures such as a national lockdown and social distancing, while necessary, make it anything but business as usual.

Looking at the economic impact of the crisis, millions have been affected as their livelihoods were forced to a grinding halt. Many people are now working from home, but for many others, this is not an option. Job layoffs and a rising unemployment rate both during and after the lockdown are expected, with an estimated 1.5 million South African jobs at risk.

For many companies and industries, the crisis has led to a slow-down in output, financial constraints, and business continuity challenges. On the power generation front, a decrease in electricity demand of 7 500MW- 9 000MW during the lockdown period, means that Eskom has been able to provide uninterrupted power. The national power utility has also indicated they are using the opportunity to conduct important maintenance work to its infrastructure. That said, once industries fully resume their operations, the challenge of insufficient power production will once again impact the nation—a nation trying to find its feet after this unprecedented health and economic crisis.

Solutions from Sustainability Projects

Implementing small and large scale sustainability projects could be one way to boost economic recovery and build resilience. These projects span across solar power generation, water efficiency, and other renewable energy deployments.

The International Renewable Energy Agency believes that investments in renewable energy could not only address the climate change dilemma but yield significant economic benefits that could also play a part in the transition to a post-COVID-19 economy.

According to the agency’s director, Francesco La Camera:

By accelerating renewables and making the energy transition an integral part of the wider recovery, governments can achieve multiple economic and social objectives in the pursuit of a resilient future that leaves nobody behind.”

In the next sections, some of the specific solutions we can expect from sustainability initiatives are explored in further depth.

Local Employment Creation

Many people have lost their jobs due to the pandemic and national lockdown. There’s no telling how many jobs will be resumed as things slowly move back to normal. The disease outbreak has also accelerated the use of technology and automation as a further unintended consequence. This, too, could lead to permanent job losses.

The renewable energy industry in South Africa is still relatively new. There is a tremendous opportunity for growth and investment. The country has a very high solar power capacity. The Department of Energy and Renewable Energy  Independent Power Producers (REIPPs) are already in the process of rolling out 27 renewable energy independent power producer projects.  These include solar farms as well as wind farms. Therefore, sustainability projects open many new job opportunities for people who have lost their livelihoods to transition into and acquire the required skills and training.

solar pv utility scale africa

Source: Environmental News South Africa

Localised Energy Production

Once power demand returns to normal levels, the national grid will once again be under a lot of pressure. Localised power generation allows businesses and residences to have some degree of self-reliance. Solar PV solutions are perfectly suited to power daytime consumption of businesses, and even powering evening loads with the aid of battery power storage. This independence from the main power supplier allows businesses and individuals to carry on their operations even in the middle of power shortages, lockdowns, and other unforeseen challenges.

There is another crucial benefit to localized power generation. As this industry grows and import bottlenecks and foreign exchange pressures weigh in,  there will be greater emphasis placed on local equipment manufacturing. This will reduce our reliance on imports, boost local industry, and create local jobs. All these factors will give the economy some much-needed stimulation. For this long-term vision to be a reality, a combined effort is required from all sectors, including research and development partners, technology hubs, and government, whose support will be key.

Cost Saving and Financial Benefits

Solar PV, energy efficiency, and other related alternate energy projects have proven high returns on investment. More than ever, in the current COVID-19 economic climate, investing in solar PV is sure to beat any current money market or equities investments in the short to medium-term. These investments pay for themselves in a few years, and the electricity generated is cheaper and cleaner. There are also additional savings for businesses and residences because of the minimal operational expenses, which free up much-needed cash for other running costs, both now and in the long-term.

Environmental Benefits

nature sustainability

Source: Biz Community

Sustainability is all about balancing resources with current needs in a manner that does not negatively impact future generations. This happens on an environmental level, but also has economic and social ramifications.

Solar power is a valuable renewable source of energy, which we are yet to maximize fully. The alternatives, such as coal and oil, release harmful emissions into the environment. Besides solar, other renewable sources of energy are wind and water.

While global industrial production has declined in many sectors in the last few months, pollution and industrial emissions are likely to have also gone down. This has provided an opportunity to reflect on the impact human beings have on the earth and how we can change our ways, moving forward.

Another aspect of sustainability is managing current resources. Water efficiency measures can stop huge water losses at all levels. All these sustainability projects aim to find alternatives solutions and strategies to minimize man’s impact on the environment.


While it won’t be an easy road to navigate a post-COVID-19 South Africa, the government, private sector, and individuals can look to sustainability projects to provide some real, long-lasting solutions. Now is the time to invest in infrastructure and systems that can withstand power supply fluctuations, boost the local economy, create jobs, all while reducing the adverse effects on the environment.


Contact Us

Feel free to contact us to see how best we can offer our sustainability engineering expertise to help you:

+27605218388 | info@zpenergy.co.za | @zeropointSA | www.zpenergy.co.za

Zero Point Energy (Pty) Ltd is a proudly South African sustainable engineering company that provides professional engineering consulting & turn-key solutions in the areas of energy efficiency, renewable energy, off-grid and energy storage solutions, water efficiency and responsible waste management. The company is a 100% black youth-owned, 30% black female-owned company achieving a Level 1 BBBEE Contributor status, and has a passion to transform the energy industry without compromising on safety, quality and client satisfaction.  Learn more about the company’s team here

ibm zpe

IBM & Zero Point Energy Solar App Collaboration

We are proud to announce our collaboration discussions with IBM Research in rolling out an app to ramp up sustainable, scalable solar PV and green energy for both businesses and homes across Africa.

“The app will continue our journey towards revolutionizing Africa with sustainable, scalable solar and green energy for both businesses and homes,” according to our co-founder AK Mohamed.

Read full article on IBM Research blog link here.

Image Credit: IBM Research