September 2015 – Wilderness Safaris is delighted to announce that Vumbura Plains Camp in Botswana’s Okavango Delta now operates entirely on solar power. This follows the completion of an energy conversion project which will result in significant savings in fuel consumption and a major reduction in carbon emissions.
This major investment is a continuation of the company’s innovative and ongoing solar conversion programme, with a total of 11 Wilderness Safaris camps now operating 100% on solar power. In line with Wilderness Safaris’ commitment to its 4Cs ethic of Conservation, Community, Culture and Commerce, sustainable energy usage is a natural priority for the business. Following an investment of almost BWP39 million, the group is now able to produce a combined total of 500kW of solar power, or 3 000kW/h per day, from its 100%-solar-operated camps.
“The conversion of Vumbura Plains to solar power is of particular significance as, prior to this, the camp was the second largest consumer of generator diesel in the entire Wilderness Group. While the initial investment required for solar conversion is considerable, we believe that moving away from relying on fossil fuels is not only the responsible thing to do in terms of conserving the planet’s precious natural resources, but also results in a number of commercial benefits, allowing us to operate more efficiently and save on various supply costs”, says Derek de la Harpe, Wilderness Safaris’ Chief Sustainability Officer.
In the 2015 financial year, Vumbura Plains consumed 13.7% of the total diesel used for the generation of power in all Wilderness Safaris camps. This equated to carbon emissions of 492.8 tonnes of CO2 over the course of the year, and 0.15 tonnes of CO2 per bednight. Now, the camp’s solar installation includes 460 solar panels of 245W each, along with 192 gel-filled batteries. The system can produce a total of 630kW/h per day, saving an estimated BWP1.8 million per year in diesel fuel and delivery costs.
“Our commitment to embracing renewable energy does not stop here and we plan to continue retrofitting our existing camps with solar power, as well as incorporating solar-power systems in our new builds. This means that we are well on track to achieve our target of reducing carbon emissions by 10% by 2016”, concludes de la Harpe.