The National Department of Tourism (NDT) of South Africa appointed WSP as advisor in the development of renewable energy projects at state-owned tourism attractions. The Robben Island Museum – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the prison where Nelson Mandela was held captive for 18 years – was identified for the pilot project phase.
WSP first assessed various renewable technologies for this sensitive UNESCO World Heritage Site and then proposed a solution that took available wind and solar resources into account, along with marine conditions and the rich local wildlife.
A Brief History of Power Supply
The power supply on Robben Island initially consisted of a small, diesel-fuelled MV reticulation system that supplied 90 houses, administrative buildings, a small harbour and the island’s desalination plant. The WSP team assessed the existing infrastructure, conducted a baseline load study and evaluated various renewable technologies for use on the island.
Our environmental team conducted an availability analysis for wind and solar resources to determine the best fit for the island’s energy needs. WSP was also involved in assessing marine conditions, environmental challenges (particularly breeding colonies of very rare birds and penguins on the island) and heritage issues associated with this historic site.
Thanks to our experience and good relationship with various stakeholders, we were able to quickly perform the environmental assessment for a location where it was challenging to obtain a permit.
WSP ultimately suggested a solar PV in combination with a battery system as the best solution for Robben Island, transforming the project from a basic solar installation to a ground-breaking microgrid system.