Two Oceans Aquarium powered by the sun - News | 110% Green

Two Oceans Aquarium powered by the sun

23 November 2016
Have you ever stopped to consider how much electricity it must take to run the Aquarium's vast animal life support systems? 
Aquarium entrance shot.JPG

For tourists and locals alike, the Two Oceans Aquarium on the V&A Waterfront is a great place to explore and appreciate the beauty of aquatic life. But have you ever stopped to consider how much electricity it must take to run their vast animal life support systems? Well, we have, and after contacting the Aquarium, we were thrilled to discover that the Aquarium runs on solar power.  

That’s right, there are currently 500 solar panels on the roof which provides for approximately one third of the Aquarium’s daily overall consumption. The plant, installed as part of Sustainable Power Solutions' (SPS) V&A Waterfront project, has the following features:

  • The panels have a maximum peak output of 128kWp. Due to the roof orientation of the solar panels however, SPS Project Engineer Garth Cloete explained that the panels will only produce 90kWp.
  • Not all the panels are north-facing though, so the Aquarium has managed to save on the Eskom peak tariff charges by balancing the morning and afternoon load.
  • The expected average daily energy production of the PV panels is 535kWh, which equates to approximately one third of the Aquarium’s overall consumption.
  • The plant feeds directly into the Aquarium’s electricity grid during the day and is used throughout the building. At night the plant goes into standby mode.
  • The PV components were manufactured in Germany, but the overall structure is 90% local content.
  • The frames and brackets are made of aluminium to withstand the high salt content in the air.
  • The DC cables are UV resistant and double insulated for further protection.
  • The glass in the panels can withstand hail.
  • The plant has an estimated 25-year lifespan.

The Aquarium has come a long way going solar, dating back all the way to 2009 when Technical Manager Mike de Maine begun looking for ways and means to reduce the Aquarium’s energy consumption. De Maine's interventions helped the Aquarium reduce its overall consumption from 274,879kWh/month to 210,850 kWh/month. Then, in 2011, as part of Project 90 by 2030, the Aquarium received funding to install a wind turbine and 18 solar panels  which supplied energy to the administrative office section of the Aquarium. Because of their leadership in this space we hosted the Business Engagement section of our Energy Security Game Changer Launch on 19 March at the Two Oceans.

The wind turbine was damaged due to weather conditions, but it is nonetheless impressive that the Aquarium went from 18 solar panels in 2011 to 500 solar panels today! And despite a recent major construction to the Aquarium which has resulted in increased energy consumption, de Maine is positive that there are further opportunities for the Aquarium to reduce their energy usage.

“A dream realised in stages is still a dream being achieved. I am looking forward to researching new and innovative ways of reducing our energy consumption further. However, having recently added in the new life support system for the I&J Ocean Exhibit has thrown a bit of a spanner in the works and our consumption has increased. This is due to the large pumps that are running 24/7, but I believe that the increased ability to educate the public through this new exhibit outweighs the additional energy consumption and it is just another challenge to for me to overcome,” said de Maine.

Information and images kindly provided by Two Oceans Aquarium