SELF SUSTAINING: Although solar power is not unique to game lodges, the
industry has not experienced a project on this massive scale.
SELF SUSTAINING: Although solar power is not unique to game lodges, the industry has not experienced a project on this massive scale.
The project is powered by Elon Musk Tesla
The project is powered by Elon Musk Tesla
For a glimpse into a future world that Elon Musk’s Tesla is trying to create, you may want to start about seven and a half hours outside of Johannesburg, South Africa.

Here, at Singita Kruger National Park, the Sweni River ambles by, and the wildlife forage in a post-rainstorm burst of life. And among it stands one shining example of how to solve the world’s pressing energy needs.

Singita Kruger National Park’s Tesla-powered solar project is a game changer for the leisure industry, allowing the two lodges to lower its carbon footprint significantly.

By reducing their reliance on diesel, businesses are able to offer guilt-free, eco-friendly packages, without losing any of the luxury features that are always attractive to tourists.

While solar power is not unique to game lodges, the industry hasn’t seen something on this scale before.

“Initially we put 1 800 panels with the lead acid batteries. It was a huge system,” says Gavin McCabe, technical services manager at Singita Kruger National Park.

“That helped us drop our diesel consumption from 40 000 litres to about 20 000 litres. It was a 50% saving. At the end of last year, we began with the upgrade. Now we have 3 388 solar panels on the system. It has a transformer that sends power to our power pack system, which is now Tesla.”

Some interesting facts to ponder: the batteries are adapted from the same cell technology used in Tesla’s lithium ion batteries that power electric cars.

Singita has increased solar energy production by 1 000% to 219 454kWh, when compared to the first system in 2015. That’s enough energy to power more than 100 households in South Africa for two months. Singita has been a 79% drop in diesel used by the generators, saving 132 tons of carbon emissions.

“The beauty of the Tesla system is it’s all modulated. It’s also a lot more eco-friendly.

“We have three generators, and the system is all automated, so if there’s an extra demand and the solar can’t cope then a generator kicks in. The initial phase set up took just four months. SolarAfrica, who did the installation felt that the Tesla system was the best technology around,” McCabe says.

Singita is off the grid, and is completely self-sufficient.

It’s able to generate and store power in a way that few other properties can. “Our carbon footprint has dropped dramatically since we introduced this system,” he added. The system is a marvel, and a walk through to see the inverters and generators reveals a completely orderly set-up – and silence. The Tesla branding gives a bit of a futuristic vibe to the place. Aesthetically too, you can see why SolarAfrica chose the Tesla option. It powers both Singita Lebombo and its sister lodge, Sweni.

Sweni Lodge has been redesigned and will reopen next month.

Lebombo Lodge, which opened in 2001, underwent its refurbishment last year, with modern designs that embrace the magic of the surroundings.

Each unit nestles secretively on the banks of the Sweni River – the perfect hideaway for a romantic holiday, or time away with loved ones. Singita is a firm favourite with overseas visitors and why not when you can shower outdoors while a crocodile saunters down the river barely 200m away?

The Big Five are naturally the main attraction, but there’s also the luxury that Singita is synonymous with that counts. More than 100 staff members are at your beck and call. They’re extremely knowledgeable about the environment and conservation, and take the greatest pleasure in meeting your needs, be it game drives, dinner conversation or an extra shot of gin in your tonic.

SolarAfrica and Tesla’s hand in making Singita more environmentally friendly is likely to inspire others.