Several Western Cape Department of Education schools will be supplied with solar power from a renowned global solar micro-leasing marketplace, Sun Exchange.
Minister of Economic Opportunities for the Western Cape, Beverley Schäfer, says that the use of solar power is a good step towards sustainability in schools in the province.
“The province is committed to growing our green economy, and to transitioning our province, including our schools, away from coal-based, decentralised electricity generation. By investing in technologies that build our resilience as a province, we are future-proofing our schools against rising energy prices.”
The first school that will be supplied with solar power is Protea Heights Academy located in Brackenfell. It is the eighth school in the country to be apart of the Sun Exchange solar project in South Africa.
As a school under the Western Cape Department of Education, it specialises in maths, sciences and technology, and has a reputation for excellence and providing a forward-thinking space for students and staff.
Principal of Protea Heights Academy, Wendy Horn, says of the move to solar power, “Our school is a place where learners are empowered to compete globally and solve global problems. With our focus on technology and innovation, it is a natural progression to transition the school away from fossil fuels.”
Through Sun Exchange, schools and businesses are able to have solar power installed without paying any upfront or ongoing operational costs. This tool will help schools to save money and provides some relief against the potential Eskom tariff hikes. The company allows people to own and lease solar cells, earning an income and helping organisations or schools to gain access to clean and affordable energy.
A student of the school, Jonathan de Kock, explains that the implementation of solar power not only provides cleaner energy but also opportunities for learners “to make investments into solar cells that will power our school, which teaches us important investment skills.”
The Sun Exchange project at Protea Heights Academy and other schools are supported by both the Western Cape Department of Education and the Western Cape Department of Economic Opportunities.
Western Cape Minister of Education Debbie Schäfer commends the school for implementing the inexpensive renewable energy source.
“We have a responsibility to be more proactive in limiting our carbon footprint, but it has been too expensive for us to implement widely in schools. Thanks to this innovative approach, Protea Heights will, working with Sun Exchange, transition to lower-cost, clean energy affordably, as well as use this opportunity to teach the learners about the technology and principles of entrepreneurship, and our role as a country in the Sustainable Development Goals. This really is an outstanding example of making learning come to life.”
Those wishing to buy into the Protea Heights Academy solar project can donate a portion of their Sun Exchange revenue to Sarmie Mommiez, the designated charity for the project at the school. Sarmie Mommiez is a non-profit orgnaistaion aimed at uplifting and empowering impoverished communities in the Western Cape.