The various energy savings initiatives that have started showing positive results are the following:
> The own generation of power through the solar photovoltaic (PV) plants now operating on all four campuses. > The implementation of energy saving lights (LEDs). > Occupancy sensors (implementation still ongoing). > The increased use of gas for water heating at residences on the APB and DFC Campuses. > The further installation of heat pumps, especially in new and refurbished residences. > The installation of energy efficient showerheads. > The installation of load control ripple relays.
Continuing with these types of initiatives, including the introduction of further solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, together with awareness campaigns, will further improve on savings. Since 2018, savings have been lowest on APK overall, due to increased HVAC and the growth in specialist research equipment on the campus. In 2023, a new main chiller installation on the APK Campus with substantially better energy efficiency and no water use will change the energy and water figures there substantially.
Egoli natural gas has a lower CO2 footprint per gigajoule (GJ) of energy when compared to coal and is therefore a cleaner source of energy. Egoli natural gas will in future be used at a number of residences for heating water and cooking. Since a great deal of gas is used for heating on the APB Campus, there is a plan to trial a 500kW combined heat and power (CHP) generation facility to simultaneously reduce dependence on Eskom power and to reduce the campus carbon footprint further. The continuing diversification of energy sources, from 2019 onwards, will result in a small but measurable continual reduction in the carbon footprint, especially at the residences.
UJ’s on-campus solar power initiative set to provide an accessible energy option
The University of Johannesburg (UJ) is set to become ‘grid positive’, thanks to 4 450 solar panels that have been installed on the roofs of several on-campus buildings and carports (covered parking bays) since 2020.
Through this project, the University is demonstrating its commitment to environmental sustainability by reducing the electricity demand on the national power grid.
“The photovoltaic system manages over 1700 kilowatts of solar photovoltaic power and could produce as much as 4 343 500 kilowatt hours of renewable energy annually. This is close to 8.88 percent of the 48 866 044 kilowatt-hours of energy consumed across the University’s four campuses, yearly,” says Mr Mbambeleli Masala, the project manager of sustainability at UJ.
Masela pointed out that the University is seeking projects that are innovative for both university operations and for research purposes. “Installing solar power energy not only provides learning opportunities for our students, saves money by reducing the power bill, but is also a step towards achieving the country and the world’s climate goals as it also reduces the carbon emissions.”
The solar initiative was rolled out with the support of RCSOL Renewable Circle Solutions and Cronimet Mining Power Solutions, as an addition to their sustainability services in energy efficiency, water conservation and recycling.