Despite the challenge of loadshedding, there is light at the end of the tunnel for another school in Stellenbosch – iKaya Primary School in Kayamandi – which will soon receive a hybrid 15,12kw photovoltaic (PV) system that will enable the school to switch seamlessly from the Eskom grid when the lights go out.
The school will soon be able to bank almost R50 000 in yearly energy savings through this system.
iKaya is the second school in Stellenbosch that will benefit from green initiatives being rolled out to various schools in the Western Cape as part of a partnership and more extensive initiative with the Western Cape Education Department, Stellenbosch University’s social impact division, and other partners. The project involves funding to pilot IoT energy management and lighting efficiency retrofits at 75 no-fee schools in the Western Cape.
The first school to benefit from this project was Cloetesville Primary School – known as the Green School – which received a 7.5kW PV system, generating approximately 14MWh (14 000 units) of electricity per year, negating almost 13 tonnes of CO2 annually and saving R20 000 per year while selling electricity back to the grid. The Green School also became the country’s first school and second building to receive an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). Cloetesville Primary will now be upgraded to a hybrid system with a hybrid inverter and batteries. Next in line is Cloetesville Secondary School, which will be equipped with energy-saving systems as part of SU’s social impact programme. From their side, the WCED will roll out similar programmes to another seven schools in the Western Cape region.
Dr. Leslie van Rooi, Senior Director Social Impact and Transformation at SU, said the University has contributed just over R1 million to this project. “We do this because we believe in the possibilities of our local schools and because we know that our collaboration, support, and learning together are fundamental to SU and our town’s possibilities. The University is very grateful that we can join hands this way. This complements other SU-related activities and collaborations in our local schools.”
“Loadshedding and the cost of electricity have a devastating impact on our economy,” says Booysen. “The cost is not limited to business, as they directly affect operations at what we believe to be the lifeline of our fledgling democracy: schools. We are incredibly privileged to have the support of Stellenbosch University’s Division for Social Impact to effect real change at the schools that need it most. This intervention at necessitous schools will substantially reduce their monthly electricity expenses, reduce their carbon footprint, and keep essential services going through bouts of loadshedding. Moreover, the burden on our frail grid will be reduced, immediately benefitting us all.”
“We hope that this much-needed change will not only positively impact the effects of load shedding and electricity costs but also aid learners’ learning experiences. After all, as part of science for society, our learners should understand how energy produced by the sun can be stored and used at our schools,” said van Rooi.
Jason Samuels, who recently received his Ph.D. under the supervision of Prof Booysen, and his team have spent the past two years covering many miles to do extensive energy audits at various schools to determine how it can retrofit them with energy-saving lights and meters to measure and manage their usage.
“By doing this, we reduce a school’s energy bills with anything from 21 percent to as much as 39 percent,” says Samuels.