4 November 2013
Africa has its first-ever bank that runs completely on renewable energy.
Nedbank’s Lansdowne Corner branch, situated in Cape Town, makes use of an innovative hybrid power installation, which effectively makes it a 100% off-the-grid outlet.
It harnesses solar and wind energy, converting it to standard mains electricity which is fed back on to the national electricity grid. It is able to offset all the branch’s electricity consumption in this way.
Nebank says it transformed the Lansdowne Corner branch as part of its commitment to environmental sustainability in South Africa.
The hybrid energy installation means that during some months it generates more electrical power than it uses, making it possible for it to contribute power back onto the energy grid.
At this rate the set-up costs for the bank will be fully recouped in two years, where the average branch would only achieve this in five years, the bank says.
The new branch builds on the successes Nedbank achieved with South Africa’s first partially wind-powered bank branch in Du Noon, also in the Western Cape, which was unveiled in 2010.
The hybrid grid-tied system is capable of supplying the branch’s full annual electricity demand of 70 000kWh, which can easily supply electricity for approximately six middle-income households in South Africa, according to James Carpy, technical director of Kestrel Renewable Energy, which undertook the installation on behalf of Nedbank.
“This is a remarkable achievement,” he points out, “particularly since it ensures that the branch’s operations will now have little to no climate change impact, thanks to its vastly reduced carbon footprint.”
This system will effectively help to lower South Africa’s total CO2-eqt emissions by approximately 71 tons a year, saving the equivalent of 25 000 litres of petrol.
The branch will be fully operational even when there is no power in the area.
“This model is symbolic of how renewable energy can give rural communities access to resources where there are infrastructure constraints,” said Ciko Thomas, managing executive of consumer banking for Nedbank Retail. “The off-grid hybrid installation offers proof of what can be achieved when organisations have a genuine vision for, and commitment to, contributing to a greener future for our country.”
The bank has also launched two community sustainability outreach projects in the area: Belmore Primary and York Primary schools will now benefit from vegetable tunnels, rainwater harvesting tanks, and sustainability workshops.