SOUTH AFRICA – In line with its pursuit of brewing a better world, Heineken South Africa has officially launched its recently installed solar power plant at its Sedibeng, Midvaal brewery. 

The plant boasts of 14,000 panels having a significant 6.5MW of power, targeted to provide 30% of the brewery’s electricity demand. 

Unlike many solar plants in South Africa constructed in parking lots or on roofs, or in a desert area, the Sedibeng brewery solar plant is built in a lush field covered with wild grasses. 

It incorporates single axis tracking technology that enables the panels to move with the rise and setting of the sun. 

The 19ha project, tagged to the largest freestanding solar plant powering a brewery in South Africa, and the largest within the Heineken Group, began producing power in May this year and is expected to generate 17,000 MWh per annum. 

It complements Heineken’s Brewing a Better World goal to net zero impact and increase the share of renewable energy in production to 70% by 2030. 

“This project supports HEINEKEN’S Brewing a Better World goal reach to net zero status in all its production sites by 2030. 

“It is the latest move made by the company, on its journey towards more sustainable brewing,” says Richard Kriel, HEINEKEN’S Engineering, Strategic Projects & Sustainability Manager. 

The plant, which has an estimated lifespan of 25 years, has been undertaken in partnership with The SOLA Group, a vertically-integrated provider of renewable energy solutions in South Africa. 

“SOLA is proud to be associated with Heineken and their commitment to procuring clean, low-carbon energy. 

“Embedded generation projects right at the source of consumption help in reducing the load on the electricity supply network without additional grid infrastructure upgrades,” says Dom Wills, CEO, Sola Group.   

The construction process took approximately 7 months to reach completion. During this time a total of 127 job opportunities were generated of which 100 were filled by people from the local Sedibeng community. 

The various job opportunities include technicians, construction teams, general workers and community members who attend to solar panel cleaning and vegetation control to maintain optimal performance. 

Launch of the solar plant follows a water reclamation plant unveiled at the same facility earlier this year. 

The plant will help the drinks maker to deliver on its commitments for the maintenance and sustainability of healthy watersheds. 

Heineken’s goal is to reduce the water ratio of 3.6 litres to 2.5 litres for each litre of beer produced, and the plant will enable them to achieve this strategic goal. 

According to the company, the treated water from the reclamation plant will not be used in the beer itself, but will be used for service water and cleaning around the brewery. 

Heineken continues beefing up its investment in the rainbow economy even as it eagerly awaits finalization of its takeover deal of Distell Group and Namibian Breweries Limited. 

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