Eco-V has developed and commercialized GreenTower Microgrids, an Internet connected solution that integrates solar energy, water treatment, disinfection and water purification, optimised and managed by software. Customers include elderly care facilities, property developers, farms, residential households, guest houses, industries, schools and universities that need improved energy, water, food and health security. GreenTower technology provides a distributed way of generating and storing solar electricity, solar hot water, treated borehole water and purified, disinfected greywater that can be scaled to any requirement.
The GreenTower hybrid solar prototype, first built in 2013, has been continuously improved; our efforts have been validated by multiple awards won during the implementation of 22 pilot projects covering various market segments, saving 278 thousand kWh annually with a reduction of 278 tons of Greenhouse gas and conserving 4.5 million liters of water per year. Our patented hybrid solar technology saves up to 90% on water heating expenses and provides renewable resources at below utility cost.
Elderly Care Facilities
Sustainability audits performed at a number of elderly care facilities have provided valuable insights. At Susan Strijdom home for the elderly in Pretoria the annual energy usage in 2016 was more than 313,000 kWh. The kitchen was the largest single user of electricity, followed by water heating and the laundry. Monthly municipal water consumption was typically in excess of 800kl with about 25% of the water supply used for bathing and the laundry and up to 35% used for the garden. However more than 35% was flushed down the drain by toilets and leaking infrastructure while only about 5% of the water was used for drinking and in the kitchen. The municipal electrical smart meter billing was accurate initially however since the smart meters were removed in 2019 billing is manipulated by the municipality frequently using estimated consumption and over-charging.
A 10-year Service Agreement was signed in 2017 for a GreenTower Microgrid at SAVF Susan Strijdom home for the elderly. The aim was to validate the performance of the GreenTower Microgrids and demonstrate its capacity to support a sustainable business model for energy and water security as a service. Baseline maximum demand peaked in June 2017 at 130.9 kVA which was reduced to 79.3 kVA in June 2019, a 51.6 kVA (40%) saving, with energy usage for June reduced by 5,987 kWh (18%), while saving ±2.2 million litres of municipal water by using treated borehole water for hot water supply and irrigation. GreenTower is currently on track to pass on net savings of around R1million over a decade while enhancing energy and water security at Susan Strijdom home.
In 2019 the GreenTower Microgrid at Susan Strijdom home was expanded to improve food security with an aquaponics greenhouse with fish and vegetable production. In August 2019 Coventry University (UK) completed performance validation of the GreenTower Microgrid circular economy model. During 2020, in response to covid-19, GreenTower technology will also provide health security to elderly care facilities by providing ozone treated water for disinfection of surfaces and groceries along with 3D printed face masks for care givers.
In 2011 the SANS 10400–XA ‘Energy Usage in Buildings’ regulations were passed in South Africa, setting out property development rules for water heating, lighting, insulation and glazed areas including windows, glass doors and roof lights. The regulations took more than five years to be refined and properly implemented due to cost implications for developers along with lack of skills from architects and municipal administrators approving building plans as well construction activities. The regulations oblige property developers and residential owner builders to deploy renewable solutions that save more than 50% in electricity consumption for water heating and give guidelines for energy efficient buildings regarding maximum demand and annual energy consumption.
In 2017 a property developer selected Eco-V to install GreenTower solar UPS units at Menlo Living, a high end residential development in Pretoria. The developer installed LED lighting and heat pumps while Eco-V installed Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) units at ten apartments using solar PV to reduce energy consumption with battery storage to provide emergency power during municipal power interruptions. During 2018 and 2019 the installation was upgraded for some residents including transfer switches, Lithium batteries and larger solar PV arrays. At Menlo Living estate GreenTower is saving 23 thousand kWh in energy annually with a reduction of 23tons of Greenhouse gas.
Eco-V is currently designing GreenTower Microgrids that could provide energy, water, food and health security as a service for 108 apartments in Pretoria. The pilot project could involve initial contracting with the developer for a monthly service fee, which will then be transferred to the body corporate once all apartments have been sold. Eco-V would fund the GreenTower installation including electrical, water and sanitation infrastructure, which will reduce the capital expenditure of the developer significantly. The successful outcome of the pilot project would lead to GreenTower Microgrids for a sustainable property development of 4,000 homes in Vaal Triangle and additional projects working with one of the largest property developers in Gauteng.
Many warehouses operate 24/7 and consume electricity for lighting, electric forklifts, administration, kitchen appliances with hot water for showers and kitchen. In most instances the warehouse has a back-up generator to ensure continued operation during interruptions in municipal electricity supply. In most cases warehouses have more than sufficient roof space for solar PV, improving viability. A significant amount of potable water is used for showers, toilets and washing of delivery trucks on site. The Eco-V sustainability audit done at ABInbev, Isando warehouse showed water consumption in excess of 2million liters per month, which based on the less than 50 staff on the premises and use of recycled greywater for truck washing, indicates seriously leaking water infrastructure. The impact of the newly commissioned electric forklifts was approximately an increase in maximum demand of 23kVA along with 6,000 kW in energy per month.
The GreenTower Microgrid Pilot at ABInBev Isando Depot was installed in 2019 with the aim of demonstrating how GreenTower Microgrids, using a next generation Internet of Things (IoT) solution for renewable energy generation and borehole water supply, could help ABInBev fulfil its sustainability goals for climate action and water stewardship. Eco-V drilled a borehole expecting to find an aquifer with a capacity of 10kl of water per day. However the borehole was only able to open up a vein and could deliver 2.5kl water per day. The target solar PV energy generation of 4,500 kWh per month was exceeded and average generation of 4,855 kWh per month was measured with annual energy savings of 57,000 kWh providing a reduction of 57tons of Greenhouse gas.
The advance version GreenTower Microgrid that provides energy, water, food and health security as a service using a circular economy model will shortly be introduced to ABInBev, the largest brewer in the world, for implementation at their facilities globally. In response to covid-19, GreenTower Microgrids for industries will sustainably provide water security by recycling toilet water for re-use and health security by recycling ozone treated potable water for disinfection of PPE and surfaces as well as hand washing.
Schools & Universities
There is a worldwide covid-19 pandemic crisis with a global shutdown, including closing of schools and universities. Projections for infections and deaths in South Africa are tentative with infections expected to peak in September, however lockdown is crippling the economy. Current problems experienced in SA that affect education include cost as well as access to clean water for drinking and sanitation along with high cost of electricity coupled with electricity supply interruptions. Now our schools and universities also need to deal with the pandemic. The influenza season that begins in May, which co-insides with end of lockdown and return to school, could add to 40,000 hospitalizations and 10,000 deaths related to flu.
Our circular economy GreenTower Microgrid pilot for schools was awarded funding in March 2020. The project in partnership between Eco-V, Tshwane University of Technology and Coventry University will provide solar power and ozone treated borehole water for sanitation. Borehole water will be treated and replace potable water for toilets. Ozonised water will be used as a sustainable alternative to sanitizers for hand washing, disinfecting classrooms as well as PPE in response to covid-19 and influenza. Ozone dissolved in water is a highly safe and effective cleaning solution. Electrical energy is used to convert oxygen molecules in the air, which is then passed through water, transforming some O2 into O3. In this state it is highly effective; clinging to dirt, grime, bacteria & viruses killing 99.999% of all harmful contaminants. Testing aqueous ozone for covid-19 disinfection is progressing well in the USA, with success to eliminate a similar virus and conclusive results are expected in June 2020. Ozone is already being used as disinfectant in Sweden, Italy, Spain, China and Korea and specifically for some schools in the UK, USA and Canada.
Part of the GreenTower value proposition for high schools is an online learning platform to improve skills in solar, IoT and entrepreneurship with community collaboration to facilitate a feeding scheme. Practical entrepreneurship projects will include skills development such as 3D printing of PPE for teachers as well as disinfection for reuse. GreenTower Microgrids for schools aims to provide Energy, Water, Food & Health Security as a Service to 1,000 urban high schools and universities in South Africa as a sustainable response to covid-19 and influenza. The circular economy model requires no capital investment from schools, with reduced municipal electricity & water expenses covering monthly GreenTower service fees from the onset. A 10 year service level agreement caters for cost of capital recovery, maintenance and fair split of savings portions between Eco-V and the school.