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Toyota has become the latest company to answer power utility Eskom's call for companies to reduce electricity consumption and to find alternative energy sources, by installing over 200 solar panels at its Prospecton plant in Durban.
With the country's growing at some 15% per year and putting strain on existing infrastructure, Eskom had asked businesses to cut power usage by 10% in order to reduce demand by 3 000 megawatts.
"We would like to work together with Eskom's new task team to aid in load reduction," said Toyota South Africa spokesperson Ferdi de Vos in a statement this week.
"This will ensure that our economy does not suffer loss from unnecessary load-shedding."
By the end of 2008, Toyota will have installed 270 solar panels into its Durban plant, which will enable them to operate at full capacity while also reducing demand on Eskom.
Where the plant previously used electricity and gas to heat water, it will now use energy converted from the sun as a source of heat. Solar panels collect and convert energy from the sun into energy and heat that is then used by nearby buildings.
Toyota's renewable energy project began in 2006 with the installation of 44 panels, and the second phase was completed in June 2007 when 150 panels were installed. In the third phase of the project, Toyota will install a further 120 panels.
While the project has cost Toyota R3.5-million, the company expects to save R95 000 per month on energy costs when the project is completed in the next few months.
"Not only is this a significant financial saving, but it shows that Toyota is supportive of Eskom's energy saving initiative," said De Vos.
The environmental impact of electricity use in South Africa is also a concern that big electricity users like Toyota needed to help address, and the manufacturer pointed out that the change would reduce its carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere by approximately 1 350 tons per year.
"Our solar power initiative is done with the environment in mind," said De Vos.
According to the company, over 18% of global final energy came from renewables in 2006.
Additional information: SouthAfrica.info
News date: 07/05/2008