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Environmental Affairs in partnership with UNIDO, hands over energy efficient classroom in Groutville, KwaZulu-Natal

25 March 2014

The Department of Environmental Affairs, in partnership with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), represented by Industrial Development Officer and Project Manager, from the UNIDO head office in Austria, Mr Alois Mhlanga, on 24 March 2014, handed over a classroom fitted with energy efficient solutions to the Dr B W Vilakazi Primary School in Groutville, Ilembe District Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal.

The Deputy Minister of Water and Environmenta Affairs, Ms Rejoice Mabudafhasi officially launched the classroom structure in October 2012. The handover is one of the many initiatives of the Greening Programme within the community of Groutville. It is in response to the targeted interventions discussed during the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change 17th Conference of the Parties and the 7th Meeting of the Parties (MOP 7), and aligned to the United Nations inclusive communities’ energy security interventions.

The project, implemented at the school, involves, amongst other things, the installation of a solar water heater and energy efficient boundary lighting within the school. Another school to have benefited from the project is Aldinville Primary School, also situated in the Ilembe District, Groutville. The school received a solar water heater.

As the selected recipients of the classroom, the Dr Vilakazi Primary School has benefited from the funds secured post the completion of the classroom. They have received a PV-Solar Demonstration system that is suitable for practical use as well as for teaching purposes. The system will use a theme and technology that is solar based but supporting other technologies such as wind, biomass and biogas. Some of the classroom’s features and equipment include: solar panels on the roof, a microcare controller box, a DSTV Decoder, solar training kits, 12V- Television LED 24 inch, solar powered wind turbine kits, 12V- ECO1 308L Fridge / Freezer, solar trainer kits and internal and external 12V LED lights.

The constructed biogas digester is connected to the school ablution block and once fully operation will supply the kitchen low pressure gas for cooking purposes. This will provide a renewable source of energy for the school kitchen. Further savings will be realised from the solar powered retrofitted classroom.

Since its implementation at the Ilemebe District in 2011, the project has assisted and contributed to the reduction of carbon emissions in the atmosphere and has supplied selected rural clinics in KwaZulu-Natal with 69 Solar Water Heaters. A total of 30 households received cook stoves donated by Phillips at the official launch of the project and the two schools: Dr  B W Vilakazi Primary and Aldinville Primary School were identified as one of the beneficiaries. It was viewed at the COP 17 as part of a side event focusing on sustainable energy access for rural communities.

Regarded as important for rural communities by the Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, the project will contribute to the unprecedented threat of climate change impacts and will also address some of Green Economy Strategy focus areas.

Phillip Electronics, LTE Energy Group, Global Environment Facility (GEF) and UNIDO are amongst the stakeholders that have worked closely with the Department of Environmental Affairs to make this project, since its commencement, a success.

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Roopa Singh
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