The possibilities that solar power can afford communities – particularly underserviced areas with limited infrastructure – are infinite. From the provision of ample street lighting and the generation of thousands of rand in utility savings to providing a starting point for the enlightenment of a population on the importance of sustainable energy, the value of solar cannot be overstated. SONOP primary school in Paarl, South Africa is learning about this value first hand.
Through a partnership with solar installation company On Track and solar technology providers SolarWorld Africa (Pty) Ltd, Design Indaba has been working to facilitate the instalment of effective solar systems at the under-resourced school in the hopes that it will bring some major socio-economic relief to the school and its surrounding areas.
Design Indaba has never believed design to only be about beautiful things, focussing rather on how design can be of service to people. After identifying the needs of SONOP primary, which included a staggeringly high monthly utility bill and an inability to keep up with the rising prices of textbooks and other school supplies, On Track, SolarWorld Africa (Pty) Ltd and Design Indaba began working to make good on this conviction.
In today’s age of rapidly rising electricity costs, the utilisation of solar energy can save communities hundreds of thousands in funds that would otherwise go toward utility bills. Functioning in a way that sees them pay for themselves, solar panels also aid in protecting communities from unexpected hikes in electricity tariffs.
Aside from the monetary savings that it affords, solar installation at schools like SONOP primary school also provide an excellent base to educate young people about its practicality and advantages from an early age. As the heart of most communities, schools represent the ideal location for the cultivation of an eco-conscious population, and the development of an energy and sustainability conscious student body will serve as a positive example for the entire community.
It is the hopes of all involved in the SONOP primary school solar project that these upgrades will reduce the financial pressures they face, as well as foster an increased sense of personal responsibility among the students.