In 2022 Universal Paper embarked on a renewable energy journey with the start of Phase 1 of our solar panel installation project with the aim to improve our sustainability practices and reduce our carbon footprint.
Phase 1 was completed in March 2022 and encompassed our paper manufacturing plant as well as sections of our converting plant, the completion of Phase 2 is approaching to be completed by mid-2023. We are looking at further phases for our distribution centre.
Already the project is making a significant impact as our dependency on the grid has been reduced by 14%. The power generation capacity from the 3197 x 545 Wp (Watt peak) panels used in Phase 1 tops out at a significant 1.74 MW (1740kW); this is enough to power 575 South African households with average electricity usage (2614 kWh/year) for one year if only 10% (174kW) of the maximum generating capacity of the panels is used per hour, 24/7 for a year. The total amount of solar energy produced from March 2022 is already at over 2.37 GWh (2 370 000 kWh) which equates to powering 906 South African households with average electricity usage for one year; the environmental benefits to date are shown below:
Phase 2 will add an additional 1.49 MW of power generation capacity to the system with the installation of a further 2614 x 570 Wp (Watt peak) panels. This is enough to power an additional 492 South African homes with average electricity usage for one year using only 10% (149kW) of the maximum generating capacity of the Phase 2 solar panels per hour, 24/7 for one year. The extra 1.49 MW reduces our grid electricity dependence by an additional 11%. Once complete we will be supplementing our electricity usage with 25% renewable energy.
Working with industry-leading solar panel providers, we are increasing our efforts to help reduce our impact on the environment while still maintaining the efficiency and high quality of production in all our facilities.
We believe that this initiative will not only diminish our carbon emissions, but also serve as a practical example to other companies and industries as we move towards a more sustainable future. We are energized to see the progress and advancements of this project and cannot wait to see how it will continue to aid the environment and our company in the years to come.