It is a known fact that South Africa is facing severe energy shortages and that the development and utlisation of renewable energy as a source of supply has become paramount. The development of Photovoltaic (PV) farms in South Africa, whilst still in its infancy, has positive implications for the tourism, commercial and residential sectors as well as those communities not reliant on the grid system. Hand in hand with these PV farm developments comes the need to house the associated instrumentation in an environmentally friendly, practical and secure way. ROCLA, South Africa’s precast concrete specialists, have entered into a manufacturing-under-licence agreement with the Spanish company Prephor. Prephor who are the European market leaders for the supply of concrete cabins to PV farms, chose to align with ROCLA due to their extensive experience in this niche segment of the concrete industry. Justin Kretzmar, Sales Engineer at ROCLA said “We are delighted to have formed this partnership with Prephor, as we believe it is a meeting of ‘experienced minds’ which will mutually benefit both companies. The moulds for the concrete cabins, manufactured in Serbia by an Italian company, arrived at our Roodepoort factory in June, packaged in 5 x open top containers. ROCLA plans to manufacture these concrete cabins at a rate of one cabin per day with the first cabin being ready for delivery Monday 15th July 2013. We currently have orders on hand for 128 cabins.” “In order to accommodate this unique new product, we completely renovated one of our existing production areas at Roodepoort Factory in order to produce, de-mould, cure, fit and paint each cabin in one area, without having to unnecessarily move these items around our yard. In addition we brought in an extra 25 tonne gantry crane to increase our total lifting capacity in this area from 25t to 50t. We also had to custom design and manufacture a specialised tilting device and lifting beam” commented Kretzmar “We have an enormous amount of experience within the European PV farm market but none in South Africa and other African countries” said David Merino, Senior Civil Engineer and Technical Manager at Prephor, “So it made economic and market sense to enter the South African arena with ROCLA who have nearly 100 years of precast concrete experience. We believe that the development of PV farms is but one outlet for the concrete cabins, which are also suitable for a variety of other industrial applications in South Africa”. In general, one cabin, at almost 9m long x 2.6m wide x 3.1m high and weighing in at just under 30 tons, is required for every megawatt of power generated on site. The concrete cabins not only offer durability and safety, they are constructed in such a way that the natural ventilation required for the instrumentation – inverters, switchgear and transformers – adequately flows through. In order to ensure the safe transportation of the cabins to site, ROCLA commissioned specially designed heavy load flat-bed haulers. Cabins are offered in varying lengths, with the width and height as a fixed dimension. Further to this, all openings for doors, ventilation grilles and fans are customisable to suit each specific client. The end client for these cabins would be the owner of the PV farms and the primary attraction to them is the fact that once the cabin gets delivered to site, they have a ‘plug-and-play’ unit that has been completely manufactured, with all the internal electronics installed, tested and certified, in a secure factory environment. This eliminates the chances of very expensive cable, inverters, transformers and switchgears being vandalised on site. ROCLA believes that these cabins would be suitable for electricity sub-stations, telecommunications installations and any industry where sophisticated instrumentation needs to be securely housed.