Solar panels to help school cut electricity

The solar panels installed at Salt River High School.

Salt River High School will not only reduce its carbon emissions but also save thousands on its electricity bill, thanks to the installation of a new solar panel unit.

The 3.96kWp solar PV system was fitted on the school’s roof on Friday December 7 and will help reduce the school’s yearly carbon emissions by five tons and save about R10 000 on its annual electricity bill.

The project was a joint effort by SOLA Future Energy and environmental justice warriors, Project 90 by 2030 – which aims to inspire and encourage leadership among young people, within the renewable energy sector.

This was part of the organisation’s YouLead initiative which offered practical training workshops during the year, through which a group of high school pupils (Khayelitsha eco warriors) were taught the theory of renewable energy and practically shown how to build a solar power charging unit.

Acting principal Fairuz Patel said the school’s environmental society had been running for the past five years and involved in various environmental projects from recycling, to making eco-bricks and the indigenous garden they had set up at the school. The school was awarded the Wessa Eco-Schools flag in 2017 for its initiatives.

Ms Patel said there was a growing awareness from the environmental society’s side which they were trying to inculcate into the rest of the school.

The solar panels, she said, would bring much-needed financial relief to the school, which had many pupils from poor areas, whose parents were often not able to afford the school fees. She said the money they were going to save could help to make a difference in the kind of education they offered their pupils, while also making a real and tangible difference to the environment.

“We are so grateful for this donation,” she said.

SOLA Future Energy chief executive officer Dom Wills said many strides had been made in the solar energy sector over the past 10 years from being a “boutique” type of technology to one which is widely acknowledged as the cheapest type of electricity out there, but said there was still much work to be done. “We still have a long way to go but I believe that our generation is the generation that is going to see the transition to solar energy through,” he said.

Mr Wills said they had installed 90 000 solar panels in the past year.

“We are slowing changing the amount of energy that is coming from coal to the energy that is coming from solar energy,” he said.

Inga Mtshitshi, a Grade 11 pupil at the Centre of Science and Technology (COSAT) who was part of the YouLead initiative, said it was an amazing feeling to see the fruits of their labour being installed.

“We worked hard on this project and it is very rewarding to see the panels being installed,” she said.