COP 17 solar legacy for rural areas

9 December 2011

South African President Jacob Zuma has launched a UN Climate Change Conference legacy project that uses solar energy to power geysers and lighting at schools and clinics in rural KwaZulu-Natal.

The project, launched in the community of Groutville outside Durban on Thursday, is part of a pilot project for tackling energy access in South Africa’s rural areas. The project is powering 19 clinics in KwaZulu-Natal province, including the clinic in Groutville, with solar water heaters.

In addition to the installation of the solar water heaters at the Groutville clinic, solar water heaters have also been installed at the two primary schools, Dr Vilakazi Primary and Aldinville Primary, as well as boundary lighting at Dr Vilakazi Primary.

A selected number of households in close proximity to the clinic have also been given renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies. “These households have now received energy-efficient cooking stoves, together with solar-powered torches, lanterns and energy-efficient indoor lighting,” Zuma said.

“The impact of this intervention will be the reduced use of carbon-intensive electricity from the grid as well as reduced timber and coal for heating and cooking.”

Access to electricity in rural areas

One of South Africa’s major challenges for poverty eradication, particularly in rural communities, is access to electricity. People have to burn wood and coal to get some sort of energy, which causes health-related problems such as pneumonia and asthma.

Collecting and using wood is time-consuming and expensive, while the environment is suffering due to deforestation and air pollution.

Zuma said he hoped that the project will scale up the use of solar-powered energy while easing the burden on communities. “The interventions announced today will ease energy poverty while addressing the country’s development goals without compromising the environment,” he said.

He said he hoped the people of Groutville and surrounds would always remember COP 17 as an event that made a practical difference to their lives.

Source: BuaNews