SALT OBSERVATORY NEAR SUTHERLAND AT 6 A.M. PRE-DAWN ON A WINTER'S MORNING
A major consideration in the design and ongoing operation of a large observatory such as the SAAO in Sutherland, where the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) is located, is the comfort of the observer and resident technical maintenance and support staff.
Creating comfortable living conditions in an area where cosy fires are forbidden due to smoke particulate emission means heavy reliance on national grid power, backed up by emergency clean burning fuel oil generators on site. The observatory is a direct consumer of Eskom power which is charged at the Ruraflex rate. This means peak rates of close to R 3 per kWh dropping to 40 c/kWh during off peak low demand seasons. Heating in the accommodation blocks, houses and other spaces such as office and recreation centre is by large electrical heating panels that consume approximately 25 kWh each per day in the peak demand season, contributing substantially towards an overall site energy consumption of 145 000 kWh per month in the season.
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