Media Release: GRDM De Hoek Mountain Resort transitioning to a green accommodation facility
For Immediate Release
29 November 2022
As part of its strategic objectives, Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) is keeping to its promise of being a leading district in pursuing green energy. In 2017, GRDM installed a 150kwh solar system on its parking lot at its George head-office. Now the municipality has done it again at their resort situated 35 km outside Oudtshoorn, De Hoek Mountain Resort.
On 25 November 2022, the GRDM Executive Mayor, Alderman Memory Booysen, the GRDM Municipal Council and officials launched this initiative with stakeholders to celebrate this event.
Municipal Manager, Monde Stratu, during his address said that with the summits that GRDM hosted over the past few years, this event is a result of one of the summits, the Green Energy Summit. The Summit contributes to the municipality’s Growth and Development goals. Through these initiatives, Stratu said: “We look at what is it that we can do as an entity to reduce our carbon footprint, reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and to produce energy, so that we can reduce our municipal bills of our own properties and buildings”. Adding to these words, Stratu added: “we have to ensure that our facilities (resorts and buildings) are gradually taken off the grid of ESKOM, so that we can reach a point where we are independent and to sell back to ESKOM the electricity that we produce from our own sources”. Stratu also used the opportunity to extend words of appreciation to Passmore Dongi, Project Manager at GRDM and the Unit, for the efforts that they have put into this project.
During an emotional speech, Passmore Dongi, GRDM’s Project Manager responsible for renewable energy, praised the Municipal Manager and his management team, as well as the Executive Mayor, Ald. Memory Booysen and Council for their support with the implementation of the project. He also emphasised the importance of ideas and the potential they have to become reality. He noted: “You can only do something when you dream.” Therefore, “dream as many times as you can,” he said.
Dongi explained that De Hoek Mountain Resort’s current electricity bill amounts to R45 000,00 per month. However, in two years’ time, GRDM might only be spending R5 000,00 and the solar system would have already paid for itself. “What we ultimately want to see is a district that is energy-secure,” he said. Dongi added that most of these projects cannot be achieved by GRDM on its own. He thanked the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) for the funding made available for the Energy Master Plan that will direct the GRDM in going forward in terms of Green Energy projects. “The idea is to reduce energy consumption by 80 to 90% at the resort,” he explained.
Menno Sulsters, Director and Project Manager at SEM Solutions, said that it had been a long road, but a worthwhile journey. In technical terms, he explained how the small-scale embedded generation system operates. In conclusion he said: “During this summer period, the system will generate extra energy that will be sold back to the Oudtshoorn Municipality”.
Alderman Booysen during his keynote address, stated: “We are giving strategic leadership, often on behalf of other municipalities, and at other times for ourselves, so that GRDM continues to be unique”. In addition, Mayor Booysen noted that GRDM has made many promises since 2016, and has “given hope to the people of the Garden Route.” He also touched on the significance of district municipalities and referred to the ongoing debate over their existence. “Every time these debates come up,” he said: “I would say to my colleagues, ‘you may think what you want; while district municipalities still exist, we as GRDM are striving to be different’”.
In addition he said: “The people of the Garden Route need the GRDM and the GRDM has shown that it works for the people of the Garden Route. Adding to the words of Dongi, he said: “Even if we dream, we must wake up to implement the dream and this is exactly what the GRDM has proven all along”.
Before the ribbon-cutting ceremony, in his final remarks, Mayor Booysen encouraged all Councillors present with the following words: “This GRDM Council, your legacy must stand. We must reach a stage that no matter who comes next, they must not be able to dismantle what we have done. Whoever comes next must continue this journey and the GRDM must remain standing”.
Deputy Executive Mayor, Ald. Gert van Niekerk extended words of appreciation to all stakeholders, councillors and officials present to witness the launch of this ground-breaking project. In closing he said: “It was an honour and privilege to be part of this historic occasion”. He praised and congratulated the Municipal Manager and the GRDM team who had the vision to implement this project.
The ground-mounted, grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) system was installed, along with a grid-connected battery system, as a pilot installation that will demonstrate how a resort can save up to 90% on energy costs. A detailed study informed the decision, yielding that the optimum solar PV capacity is 45kWp together with a 160kWh/24kW battery system. With this system, the facility can be powered by solar energy while also charging the batteries, as it generates power during the day.
In the case of fully charged batteries, excess PV power is exported to Oudtshoorn Municipality’s grid, and De Hoek Mountain Resort is reimbursed. A grid-tied battery storage system will discharge and release energy into De Hoek’s electrical reticulation at night, ensuring that no electricity will be exported to maximize self-consumption during the day.
In total, three (3) tables of locally produced mounting structures were installed on concrete foundations, each holding 28, 28, and 26 PV modules respectively of 550Wp each. The Solar PV modules are also locally assembled, meeting the Department of Trade Industry and Competition’s local content requirements.
Now that De Hoek Mountain Resort is powered by renewable energy, it can boast of providing environmentally friendly holiday accommodation.
GRDM will continue to make all its buildings and properties eco-friendly.
Feature Image: Executive Mayor, Alderman Memory Booysen, in front of the Solar System structures at the De Hoek Mountain Resort.