With so many people in South Africa living just above the poverty line, solar power provides a much needed cost effective method for providing both electricity and heat.
Renewable energy resources are also empowering disadvantaged communities that do not have access to electricity in that they provide better safety and work opportunities.
Life in a shanty town or township
The iShack project was started in 2011 in South Africa. Its primary objective was to use solar technology to improve living conditions in townships by providing electricity at affordable prices.
The reality is that in many disadvantaged communities, illegal electricity connections is rife. Illegal electricity connections claim the lives of many South Africans and cause power outages throughout the country. It also costs Eskom, the national energy regulator, millions of Rand to repair and replace damaged infrastructure.
A lot of township homes also make use of paraffin stoves and lanterns for heating and light, which presents a serious fire hazard. Shack fires are usually caused by lack of thought or concentration where paraffin lanterns are knocked over. Given the building material used and the close proximity of the shacks, fire quickly spreads with tragic consequences
Generating electricity from the sun
The South Africa government has a number of community upliftment programs which aim to improve the lives of underprivileged communities by providing them with basic amenities like water and electricity.
The aim is to use renewable energy sources like solar power to diversify the national energy grid. This means that more South Africans will be able to enjoy affordable and reliable access to energy. This is particularly critical considering the ever-rising cost of electricity and a dwindling supply of fossil fuels. This is not to mention the current energy crisis the Eskom faces ensuring that the Medupi power station is running at capacity.
What can you use solar power for?
South Africa is in the fortunate position in that it receives plentiful sunshine all year round. This means that using solar power is a wise investment that will see positive long term results. With further advances in technical requirements, more people will be able to benefit while simultaneously relieving pressure off the national gird.
Solar power can be used to:
- Power geysers to provide a constant supply of hot water
- Provide electricity for lighting
The advantages and savings can be significant and quickly offset the installation cost as well as empower disadvantaged communities.