Western Cape schools to spend R46 million for solar amid energy crisis

  • 41 schools in the Western Cape province are investing millions into solar power.
  • The provincial education department is also rolling out LEDs across its schools to save funds.
  • With no end in sight for loadshedding, students will have to keep studying in the dark as end-year exams approach.

Reports indicate that schools across the Western Cape province of South Africa are looking to embrace solar power in an effort to stave off the effects of loadshedding and reduce costs.

41 schools across the district so far have applied to install solar panels in the hopes of reducing their environmental impact and allowing teaching and learning to be unimpeded by power outages.

The expected peak capacity of these installations will round up to 25.87MWp with the investment totalling a cost of R46 million, according to Western Cape education MEC David Maynier.

Maynier adds the Western Cape education department fully supports these investments.

“We are committed to doing all that we can to support our schools to reduce their energy consumption and look forward to seeing other schools taking the initiative to address our energy crisis and reduce costs in the process,” he added.

Along with solar panelling at schools, certain schools, like Tamboerskoof Primary in Cape Town, have also begun installing battery storage systems to aid in keeping the lights on during loadshedding.

Further, 25 schools in the province have had their existing fluorescent lights replaced with energy-saving LEDs thanks to a pilot project in collaboration with Stellenbosch University and the Western Cape education department. Annual savings from these replacements are expected to reach R36 000 per school with the project planned to be completed by October 2022.

Apparently, the department provided 40 percent of the funding for the pilot in the 2021/2022 financial year. It explains that these energy-saving projects are being funded through government bodies or via lease agreements with firms like solar energy leasing platform Sun Exchange.

The education department says it is considering expanding the programme to other schools in the province. Including the rolling out of LED lighting to schools during scheduled maintenance projects.

In 2021 there were 1 449 public schools in the Western Cape, of which 41 makes up a tiny percentage. The cost to expand the solar project to anywhere near that number would surely be in the billions of Rands, not taking into account the herculean logistical task the department would have to embark on to make that possible.

South Africa is currently dealing with Stage 3 power cuts, with the CEO of the country’s power utility Eskom promising this week that loadshedding will begin to be cut back in the next few days.

Millions of Rand are lost every day due to loadshedding affecting businesses in the country, and the education system is also being battered by power outages affecting learning. As the end-year exams are approaching no doubt matrics across the country are bracing themselves to study by candlelight with no end to South Africa’s energy crisis in sight.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]
[Source – EWN]


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