Growthpoint Properties plans to pilot a 4.5MW battery system at Paarl Mall in the Western Cape. The project’s four-month installation begins in August and the system is expected to be commissioned in early December.The largest commercial battery installation in South Africa to date, according to Growthpoint, it should be fully operational by mid-December. The system will be partly charged by Paarl Mall’s new rooftop solar PV plant. Over more than a decade, the company has installed 13.5MW of solar power across its SA portfolio, but this is the first time it is integrating a large battery system.

Batteries increasingly affordable

“Battery technology has come a long way in recent years. Previously prohibitively expensive, batteries have become increasingly affordable, especially considering rapidly rising electricity prices and our imperative to help prevent costly business disruptions for our clients caused by load shedding,” says Grahame Cruickshanks, Growthpoint head of sustainability and utilities.

Grahame Cruickshanks, Growthpoint head of sustainability and utilities

Grahame Cruickshanks, Growthpoint head of sustainability and utilities


Paarl Mall recently undertook an energy-efficient H-VAC upgrade to lower its electricity consumption. Despite substantial energy savings, the centre’s electricity bill was set to hike a hefty R5m a year because the mall’s decreased load factor meant it only qualified for a more expensive municipal electricity tariff. In light of this, Growthpoint needed to tailor a new solution to provide green energy to the entire mall while ensuring a consistent power supply and optimising energy costs.

For the project, Growthpoint’s retail and sustainability teams partnered with energy engineers Terra Firma Solutions and Anderson Consulting Engineers. The Drakenstein Municipality adopted a proactive approach by providing the mall with the time needed to find the right energy-saving solution.

Battery system charged from solar and grid

Boasting more than 5,000 PV panels with a direct current capacity of 2.5 megawatts-peak (MWp) and generating 3,601,500 kilowatt hours (KWh) of energy annually, Paarl Mall’s new rooftop solar plant will span 25,000m2. Its sealed-container 4.5MW battery bank system, comprising three 20-foot containers with lithium-ion batteries, will be charged from both the mall’s solar power and the grid.

The system’s operation, production and yield will be monitored and managed offsite with the aim of optimal energy arbitrage, a technique where power is bought during off-peak hours, stored and used during peak hours. This enables peak-shaving that flattens the electrical load profile of the building. The system has also been designed to accommodate some of the mall’s demand during load shedding.