First Western Cape school goes solar through innovative programme

Protea Heights Academy in Cape Town will be the first school in the Western Cape to have solar power installed, with no upfront or ongoing operational costs, the Western Cape Education Department announced on Wednesday.

The project is being conducted in conjunction with global solar micro-leasing marketplace, The Sun Exchange, as part of their solar exchange project in South Africa. To date, The Sun Exchange has successfully deployed seven projects across the country "generating affordable, clean power for organisations".

Protea Heights Academy specialises in mathematics, science and technology. 

"With our focus on technology and innovation, it is a natural progression to transition the school away from fossil fuels," said Protea Heights Academy principal, Wendy Horn.

"[The] Sun Exchange and its members are helping us make that transition, by making solar accessible and affordable. 

"The solar project supports the school's goal to produce global citizens who embrace the United Nations Sustainable Development goals. Having the world come to our school, through investment, is a massive achievement," added Horn.

Through The Sun Exchange, anyone anywhere in the world can purchase solar cells which can be installed on the roofs of schools and other organisations in developing regions.

According to the Western Cape Education Department, "not only does this help schools save money in the short term, it also provides schools with some immunity against future electricity tariff hikes from Eskom".

Western Cape Education MEC, Debbie Schäfer congratulated the school on its efforts to "reduce their carbon footprint".

"We have a responsibility to reduce our carbon footprint, but it has been too expensive for us to implement widely in our schools," said Schäfer .

She added: "Thanks to this innovative approach, Protea Heights will, working with [The] 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."

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