Taking safari lodges off-grid: Hybrid mini-grid system for a luxurious lodge in Timbavati reserve

A remotely located luxurious hotel required a hybrid solar mini-grid system providing and guaranteeing reliable electricity supply 24/7 with 100% reliability. The main electricity off-takers in the safari lodge include air conditioning units and fans in the guest rooms; freezers, fridges and ovens in the kitchens, laundries as well as leisure facilities such as the swimming pool pumps.

IPS designed, built and installed the integrated, custom made, indoor power conversion system Exeron. The turnkey solution included 148 kWp solar input, 430 kWh lead acid battery, 80 kVA diesel genset for emergency, all managed and operated by the EXERON to power a load of 108 kVA. The operational logic of the system is as follows: during the day the generated power from the PV modules is used for powering the load and charging the batteries. At evenings or in days without enough sunshine the load is powered by the energy stored in the battery. The battery is sized for a lengthy back-up period. When there is insufficient sunshine, batteries discharge and in case of no grid power the diesel generator is automatically started as a back-up source for powering the equipment and charging the batteries.

The solution provided by IPS contributed to the eco-friendly and sustainable operation of the lodge while at the same time guaranteeing unmatched reliability and uninterruptible power supply. The use of the Diesel Generator is optimized, with annual OPEX savings post hybridization of more than 50%. The setup results in reduction of CO2 emissions by nearly 194t per year. The price per kWh is estimated at 0.33 $/kWh with payback period of 2.7 years.