Mr. Senzeni Zokwana, Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of South Africa, together with a 30-member delegation, visited SUNfarming Food & Energy Project on the Campus of North-West University in Potchefstroom South Africa.
The Minister calls the SUNfarming Food & Energy Project, a joint project of SUNfarming GmbH, North-West University and DEG / KfW on behalf of the Federal Republic of Germany, as a future-oriented development for agriculture in South Africa.
SUNfarming Food & Energy Project allows to produce food and solar energy at the same time through unique agro-solar greenhouses. Training in food production with water-saving droplet irrigation creates sustainable jobs. The Food & Energy Project is the first of its kind in Africa and the goal of SUNfarming and the NWU is to bring this project to all universities and schools in Africa. SUNfarming and the NWU see themselves as a nucleus to support other universities in research and education with their expertise.
Councillor Kgotso Khumalo Executive Mayor for Tlokwe municipality: “I am excited about the project and the potential it has for our municipality and I want to pledge our full support to this project.”
“The project provides an opportunity to grow affordable and nutritious food in local municipalities. This is an opportunity to effectively address household food and nutrition insecurity. This is innovative technology for agriculture and we want to see this replicated in other parts of the country as it effectively deals with the issue of climate change and the scarcity of water and land”, said Minister Zokwana.
“Agriculture is the answer to many problems. We need a doctor or dentist or lawyer several times a year, but we need a farmer at least three times a day. We need to strive for sustainable methods of agricultural production. What I have seen today is the future of agriculture, I congratulate you on this incredible initiative and innovation,” so Zokwana.
This year, SUNfarming presented itself as a partner, together with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development (BMZ), to the 400,000 trade fair visitors.
The general interest in SUNfarming as a project developer for capital investors as well as in the realization and active support of PV projects for commercial and private power plants was as always great. This year, we were able to successfully present our unique “Food & Energy” concept, a combination of solar energy production and food production. With the
experience of more than 1,000 hectares of solar projects implemented worldwide, SUNfarming developed the unique Food & Energy concept. In addition to the benefits of solar energy, the key elements are food production, job creation, training and water management. The SUNfarming “5 in 1” model contributes actively to the sustainable improvement of people’s living conditions, particularly in resource-poor areas or refugee regions.
Federal Development Minister Gerd Müller, has put more support in the refugee policy for the countries of origin and was very interested in finding out more about our Food & Energy concept.
Hans-Joachim Fuchtel, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of the Interior, showed also great interest in cooperation in the area of Food & Energy as an approach to combating the causes of flight. There will also be concrete discussions on projects in the solar PV sector in developing and emerging countries.
The Minister of the Environment of Qatar and the Agricultural Minister of Mauritius took the opportunity to get information about possibilities of cooperating with our competent project leaders.
Madagascar’s Embassy Adviser, the Ambassador of Guatemala and the Bolivian Ambassador, as well as a delegation from the Nigerian Embassy, were also interested guests.
Representing the Embassy of Paraguay, Mr Maidana, responsible for Economic Affairs, visited us and the embassy council of the Republic of El Salvador also got to know our stand.
The already implemented Food & Energy project in South Africa was presented by SUNfarming at the public event “A world without hunger is possible”, a special initiative of the BMZ.
At the head of a business delegation, Brandenburg’s Minister of Economic Affairs Albrecht Gerber and the Managing Director of ZAB ZukunftsAgentur Brandenburg, Sebastian Saule, visited Lima (Peru). Other members of the delegation included Meike Stockbrügger, external economist at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy Brandenburg and Jörg Ranau, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Peru / Lima.
A special focus here was on Gerber’s expansion of renewable energies. Innovative technologies and commitment are necessary to stop climate change. Brandenburg companies like SUNfarming, can contribute their decades of experience and expertise in the field of renewable energies.
Already since 2015, SUNfarming, together with the Peruvian training organization SENATI and the GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH), has been running a PV training facility on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development The SENATI site in Lima, Peru. 80 Electrical engineers have been successfully trained at the Solar Training Center.
A further meeting of the economic delegation took place with Peruvian representatives of the SUNfarming subsidiary together with the Peruvian Agriculture Minister Jose Manuel Hernandez. The most important topic here was the latest SUNfarming project “Food & Energy”.
Based on our own developments, SUNfarming has developed a unique agro-solar substructure for greenhouses. The roof is partially covered with solar modules for energy production. This unique combination ensures effective food production and a sustainable energy supply through PV. The benefits for citizens and municipalities are endless. The project offers a broad participation of municipalities with long-term property, sustainable food and energy production and job security with a strong training component.
1. Green energy production
2. Food production
5. Water management
SUNfarming Food & Energy offers the unique possibility of double surface use. In addition to solar energy production, food is being grown under the modules to supply the local population.
Minister Jose Manuel Hernandez and delegation delegates from Brandenburg also showed great interest in this second project, which was developed by SUNfarming. Further discussions are planned on a possible cooperation.
SUNfarming/ALENSYS and the North-West University celebrated the opening of the first Food & Energy Training Centre in South Africa.
The 12th of October was an exciting day for SUNfarming/ALENSYS and our partners. Together with more than 150 guests from all over Africa, including stakeholders from politics, business and universities, the opening session was held on the Campus of the North-West University in Potchefstroom.
After Prof Frika J van Rendsburg, Rector of the NWU cut the ribbon, the guests were invited to visit the solar green-houses accompanied by trainers, explaining the project and answering questions.
In his speech Prof LJ Grobler, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering especially emphasized the function of the NWU as a renewable research and development university towards sustainable communities. “We as a University form the basis of education and from here we can replicate it to other Universities and other regions through agreements between our university and other universities”, so Prof LJ Grobler.
“The students that have been trained here at our first and unique Food & Energy Training Centre can help us to roll out the investments to the rest of Africa. We see the cooperation with the NWU as a development nucleus for other universities and partners”, said Peter Schrum, main shareholder and founder of SUNfarming, in his speech to the audience. “The benefits for citizens and local government are endless! This project will facilitate broad base community participation with long-term ownership, sustainable Food & Energy production and job security benefits with a strong training component to those who need it most,” Schrum adds.
Interesting videos and articles published after the opening:
North-West University video: Communities to benefit from farming with the sun
Article in Bloemfontein Courant: SUNfarming Food & Energy
Article in New Age Daily Newspaper: SUNfarming initiative will provide food and energy
SUNfarming designed and installed a high quality 130kWp grid tied system at Pick & Pay Potchefstroom, one of the leading supply chain supermarkets in South Africa. SUNfarming used a designed methodology to maximize the yield output by elevating the solar modules. Elevated modules not only ensure optimal irradiation and effective ventilation under the panels, it also minimizes the maintenance cost during the life time of the system.
The system produces an average 10% more than pre-calculated. During the last four months, Pick & Pay saved 86 MWh of electricity with an overall reduction in consumption of 18%. During the lifetime of the system the client will generate a return of approximately more than 20% on the cash flow saving of this initiative.
The saving benefit per year is about R340.000 with a 6 year payback period.