Luxury lodges across Africa are turning to the sun to meet their energy needs in a quest to save the environment and embrace sustainable practices. Eager to have as minimal an environmental footprint as possible, Xigera Safari Lodge has awarded the contract to design and install its new energy centre to Cape Town-based EPC: 1Energy. Based in the world’s most remote and pristine wilderness area, the Okavango Delta, Xigera is set to open in 2020. Its 1Energy-designed energy centre will boast a hybrid system featuring Tesla Powerpacks set to sustain the lodge when it is at full occupancy, drastically reducing the fuel consumption and fuel delivery miles that Xigera will be responsible for.
The Okavango is the largest inland delta in the world and a UNESCO world Heritage Site well worth protecting. "We have a unique opportunity with Xigera to implement vital sustainability initiatives that make a genuine difference," says Victoria Tollman, Director of The Red Carnation Hotel Collection. "We are proud to work with partners and suppliers such as 1Energy, who share our ethos and want to work together to make travel matter for our people, the planet and for wildlife."
95% of energy powered by solar
Andy Heathcoat-Marks, Director at 1Energy, says the business was uniquely positioned to deliver this pioneering energy project, having a strong track-record of successful projects in far flung regions throughout Africa and the Indian Ocean for almost a decade. “1Energy is a registered Tesla 3rd party installer. This means we are one of the few African companies to be sanctioned by Tesla to purchase and install their systems.”
“We made the decision to offer Tesla as our preferred solution in 2018, with Mpala Jena being our first Tesla site. We prefer their systems; they are far superior in terms of technology and they are extremely price competitive. The team at 1Energy has been impressed with the quality of equipment and the ease of assembly: Tesla has clearly identified the levers to extract optimum efficiency from solar hybrid systems.”
The Xigera Energy Centre is a sophisticated hybrid power system, combining primary solar energy with the capacity for diesel backup if necessary. It comprises 400kW of solar PV, with the heart of the power system being five of the latest Tesla Powerpacks, with a power capacity of 285kW each and total available storage capacity of 1.14MWh. This is backed up by two 350kVA Volvo diesel generators.
Diesel is included as a backup as an alternative to establishing a solar energy system large enough to handle the energy requirements of any conceivable operation. The diesel backup "produces 100% of the energy requirements for any operation that would necessitate the solar system to be so over-sized that it becomes unsustainable. The Xigera system is therefore backed up by 350kVA Volvo diesel generators. Although the system from 1Energy is designed to supply over 95% of Xigera’s needs,” Andy explains.
The generators will run only in the event of extended poor weather conditions, and will remain idle, saving the lodge an estimated 175 000 litres of diesel, and the environment 500 tons of carbon emissions, each year.
Energy solutions of the future
Xigera operates in an incredibly beautiful but environmentally sensitive area and therefore making use of solar generation provides benefits beyond just fuel savings. The fact that diesel no longer powers the lodge means less diesel being transported through these areas. Fewer trucks into and out of areas such as the Okavango Delta compounds the saving of greenhouse emissions and lowers the impact on the land and wildlife that inhabit the area. Lodges that have opted for solar have reported wildlife coming closer to camps as noisy generators aren’t scaring them off, allowing for a better guest experience and a more peaceful camp environment.
“Sustainable energy solutions such as solar are starting to not only compete with, but supersede, traditional means of electricity generation. And 1Energy is committed to minimising the impact of any and all developments in remote areas across Africa,” says Heathcoat-Marks.
Red Carnation Hotels' Xigera Safari Lodge will open in 2020, joining Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat, The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa and The Oyster Box Hotel in Africa.