SOLAR power is driving Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology’s world-class facility in Zimbabwe, already saving the company over 400 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.
Promoting Sandvik’s sustainability goals, the Harare-based operation kicked off its solar power journey in 2017 with an 18-month Phase One project. This included strengthening the roof of the remanufacture facility to accommodate the weight of some 400 solar panels.
Using local contractors and expertise, the project was soon generating 50 kW of power to the facility. In Phase Two, another 50 kW of capacity was added. The installation now supplies about 75% of requirements, and plans are afoot to provide 100% of demand with another 30 to 50 kW of capacity.
“This takes our Harare facility to the next level in terms of technology and sustainability,” Ian Bagshaw, territory manager Zimboz – Southern Africa at Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology, says.
In an unusual design, the system operates with no battery storage, consuming the energy as it is generated. This substantially reduced the cost outlay for the project, enabling an efficient payback period of just nine years.
The solar journey has not been limited to the facility’s buildings. Over the past year, it has also been extended to the homes of employees. In a pilot project, standalone domestic solar power systems were designed, tested and installed. The combined impact so far amounts to about 35 kW of renewable energy.
“We will provide loans to staff members wanting to install solar power at home, empowering them to further reduce climate impact,” Bagshaw says. “We will roll out this programme in 2020 through an offer to all staff, and we expect an enthusiastic uptake.”
He estimates that the company’s domestic solar programme could soon produce a total of about 300 kW of renewable energy.
Well-regarded throughout the Sandvik Group, the Harare facility focuses mainly on the remanufacture of Sandvik trucks, loaders, drills and bolters.
“Our workshop is fully accredited and works to OEM standards,” Bagshaw says. “This high quality of workmanship allows us to provide full warranties on the machines we strip down and rebuild.”
The facility is also an important training resource for Zimbabwe, developing diesel plant fitters, millwrights and electricians. It accommodates about 40 apprentices in training at any one time; currently around 30% of these are women. The facility also provides work-related learning to other companies’ employees in the region and is a government accredited trade testing centre.