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Children at the German International School in Johannesburg have been given a unique opportunity to learn first-hand about how solar power works. A solar energy system has been installed on the school's roof as part of a programme by the German Energy Agency (dena).
Solar thermal collectors supply energy for hot water for the kitchen and heat the water for the school showers for up to 1 200 users a day. Twelve photovoltaic panels on the roof will generate more than 5 300kWh of electricity a year. This electricity is used directly for electronic devices in the school and it charges a back-up battery system.
This will cut the school's energy costs and ensure that, even during power cuts, essential services such as the phone lines, computer systems and emergency LED lights keep running.
In total, the solar energy system will save 22 300kWh of electricity a year and reduce the school's carbon dioxide emissions by about 18 000kg a year, according to SchÃ¼co, the German manufacturer of the school's solar.
The children can also see how the photovoltaic and the solar thermal systems in the kitchen are functioning because they are fitted with a data entry system that allows the school to monitor the energy generated, the current performance and the carbon dioxide saved.
The school's solar system is worth more than R300 000, says Rainer Kempf, the director of Solarzone, the South African company, based in Strand, which installed the school's system. But this is a "prestige" system, he adds.
As part of dena's Solar Roofs Programme, it is meant to serve as a demonstration and reference project for future installations.
The programme's aim is to market German solar technology globally, supporting the opening up of potential new markets abroad for German companies. Fourteen projects have already been implemented around the world, two of them are in sub-Saharan Africa - one at the Waldorf School in Windhoek, Namiba, and another at a school in Mbinga, Tanzania.
Additional information: Read the full story at the Sunday Independent
News date: 08/06/2008