Hydroponic cultivation in South Africa
CLEAN, NON-POLLUTING ENERGY
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The system produces between 500 and 750 kilos of fodder a day, 75% cheaper than the market price.
60 stockbreeders in the Deben area in Northern Cape (South Africa) have benefited from this initiative since 2019.
ACCIONA, together with the local stockbreeders’ associations Veepos A and Veepos B in Deben (Northern Cape, South Africa) has sponsored the “Green Sprouts” project for the sustainable hydroponic cultivation of fodder for animals in the area around the Sishen photovoltaic plant.
The initiative ensures the continuity of communal livestock holdings that were in a difficult situation due to the drought that has affected the area in recent years, forcing farmers to pay high prices for animal fodder. In some cases, farmers had to sell their animals because they could not afford to feed them.
Following an analysis of the natural resources in the area by an agricultural expert, ACCIONA set up a hydroponic cultivation system towards the end of 2019. This cultivation method does not need soil for the plants to grow; the roots of the plants are in a solution and less water that contains the necessary nutrients is needed. The result is a safe source of food that is sustainable and nutritive, regardless of the climate or market conditions in a particular area.
The plantation consists of two systems fed by solar energy solar in which barley and corn seeds are cultivated in a 7-day cycle. Each of the systems can generate between 500 and 750 kg a day, enough to feed 250 sheep or 50 cows. The production cost is 0.90 Rand/kilo, as opposed to 3.5-4 Rand in the market, i.e. 75% cheaper.
The programme has been implemented in the framework of the Enterprise Development (ED) initiatives that support micro-companies, ranging from initial training to consultancy in the preparation of business plans. ACCIONA set up the project with an initial investment of €17,500, and as well as being a self-sufficient model that created three jobs, the company will monitor the installation to check its progress and offer assistance if needed.
In its day, the 94.3-megwatt Sishen photovoltaic plant was the biggest installed by ACCIONA in the world, and the company’s first success in the development of renewable energies in South Africa. The plant entered service on 29 November 2014 and produces around 200 GWh a year, equivalent to the consumption of around 100,000 South African households.