Costs spark solar idea

2017-11-28 06:01
Newly installed solar panels are helping a Sacs boarding house save energy and money.

Newly installed solar panels are helping a Sacs boarding house save energy and money.

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Sacs has installed 94 solar panels at Rosedale boarding house in New­lands to reduce its energy use.

According to the school’s deputy principal, Barry van Selm, it is an attempt to cut expenses and look after the environment. He says they are aware of their carbon footprint and have paid R470 000 for the ­installation.

He says the idea came after five years of experiencing huge increases in electricity tariffs.

“We needed to find a sustainable way of bringing those costs down through adapting the custom of using sun to heat up and for lighting at the boarding house. South Africa has the best sun in the world which will help us save a lot during the day. Learners appreciated the initiative, especially those doing Geography.”

“Being able to track the system’s energy production is very interesting and allows us to see the results. Our first electrical bill has not arrived yet, but based on what we have seen from the monitoring tool, our use of electricity from the grid has been cut by about one-third, which amounts to a saving of around R75 000 at the current electricity tariffs. We are very excited about the results we have seen so far and look forward to reducing our carbon footprint and electricity bills even further in the near future,” Van Selm says.

About 110 people will use the newly installed solar power. They include learners and staff staying at the boarding house.

Grade 11 learner James Lepan says they were happy to switch to the new energy supply. He says they have not experienced any change and would recommend a solar system to other schools. Lepan says he understands the installation “is expensive at the beginning, but it in the long run you will be saving a lot of money. It is even suitable for disadvantaged schools. “

Cala van der Westhuizen, head of marketing and sales of the solar panel installation company, says schools like Sacs, with boarding houses and plenty of activity over weekends and holidays, are the perfect place to install solar systems as these types of properties consume most of their energy during the day’s peak solar hours, and can therefore maximise the financial benefits of a renewable energy solution.

He explains: “The Energy Partners’ team started off with an in-depth analysis of the needs of the boarding house. This involved taking the generation capacity that regulations would permit the team to install into consideration. This enables the system to produce at the converter’s maximum level for as long as possible during peak hours and also produce excess power that the school will be able to possibly sell back to the City of Cape Town.”

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