April 2014 – As Africa’s leading ecotourism and conservation company, Wilderness Safaris has pioneered the way yet again by demonstrating its commitment to combatting climate change and implementing various sustainable energy solutions in almost all of its wilderness camps across Africa.
Fiercely committed to protecting our planet’s precious natural and cultural resources, Wilderness Safaris places a premium on ensuring that its operations are sustainable and supported by its 4Cs ethic (Conservation, Community, Culture and Commerce). It is the Conservation C that inspires Wilderness Safaris to make investments in maximising the positive impacts arising from its activities, while at the same time implementing measures to reduce the negative impacts.
Sustainable energy usage is therefore a natural priority for the business and great strides have been made in this arena, with seven of Wilderness Safaris’ camps currently operating on 100% solar power, totalling 1 860 kW/h per day of power production. Further to this, there are five camps with solar-generator hybrid systems, reducing generator usage by about 50% and totalling a further 762 kW/h per day of power production, with another 12 camps that use smaller individual solar arrays for each guest unit or one single larger array to run the front of house only. The company also has 597 solar geysers or solar thermodynamic geysers in place throughout its operations, further reducing the need for reliance on generators or electricity.
“Regular geysers may typically operate for two hours a day in our wilderness camps, and would usually contain a 2 kW electrical element. This means that the introduction of solar geysers results in a 4 kW/h saving per day which has translated into a substantial saving across the Group of 71 640 kW/h. We are extremely proud of our dedication to sustainable energy and doing what we can to combat the effects of climate change”, says Brett Wallington, Wilderness Safaris Sustainability Manager.
When considering the energy savings generated by the use of 100% solar plants and hybrid plants, and working on six hours of energy production per day (the standard for the southern hemisphere), this works out to 55 800 kW/h for 100% solar operated camps and 22 860 kW/h for those operating on hybrid plants each month. Once again, this is substantial in terms of energy saving.
Tallying these savings up results in a combined saving of 1 803 600 kW/h each year, which translates into an estimated 658 348 litres of diesel fuel saved on an annual basis. This is certainly a significant move away from reliance on fossil fuels, which is a key priority for Wilderness Safaris. Finally, as a result of the energy efficiencies Wilderness Safaris has put in place, the business is saving 1 731 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent annually.
“Our quest to embrace sustainable energy will not stop here and plans are on track to retrofit additional camps with solar power. Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, opening in August 2014, has been built to be 100% solar powered. This will be a 50 kW system, which equates to 300 kW/h per day of power production”, Brett added. “Vumbura Plains Camp is also due to go solar this year, once all measures are complete and costs have been finalised.”