Clettesville Elementary School.

About 100 free schools in the Western Cape will benefit from clean energy initiatives being held in the province.

As part of the R6 million project, start-up GreenX Engineering will conduct extensive energy audits at various schools to determine how they can be retrofitted with energy-saving lights and meters to measure and manage their use.

GreenX is a spin-off from the University of Stellenbosch and Innovus and specializes in energy efficiency, energy data modeling, energy modernization projects and business networks.

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) recently contracted GreenX for an initial pilot online energy management and lighting upgrade in 25 schools at no charge, but the company announced on Friday that more schools will be added.

“We have already identified 100 free schools in the Western Cape that will benefit from our energy interventions,” says Dr Jason Samuels, Head of GreenX.

“We hope that after the successful completion of work in the first 25 schools, the WCED will expand our project to cover the remaining 75 schools. We estimate that the school will be able to save between 20 and 40% on their electricity bills, which could mean an average saving of around R3 000 per school per month and a total of R36 000 per year.”

On Friday, one of the beneficiary schools, Clotesville Elementary School, received a 7.5kW solar panel system (photovoltaic) that will generate about 14MWh (14,000 units) of electricity per year.

As a result, GreenX says the school will negate almost 13 tonnes of CO2 each year and save R20 000 a year by selling electricity back to the grid.

“We managed to reduce the school’s electricity bills from 21% to 39%,” says Professor Tinus Booysen from the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

Booysen is Dr. Samuel’s mentor and is involved in GreenX with another Stellenbosch University scientist, Professor Saartje Grobbelaar from the Department of Industrial Engineering.

Sally Abrahams, Deputy CEO: WCED, who attended the handover ceremony at Clotesville Primary School, commented: “Today is a fantastic day. Here we see first-hand how schools can take on a wider role in communities, providing services that can help rejuvenate them.

“Through this creative project, we see how schools can help address the national energy crisis and increase the resilience and overall well-being of the local Clotessville community. Now we need to find a way to develop a scalable model where we can roll this out to more schools so that more communities can benefit from this innovation.

“We see the advancement of this project as a priority and look forward to building partnerships to create the platform needed to attract as many schools as possible. Going forward, this project has the full support of the WCED.”

Clutesville Elementary Principal Roger Cupido commented, “We are very excited to be a part of this and are very grateful to all the partners involved. It is fantastic to have all these people here making a difference and we hope to build on these relationships in the future on our green way as a Green School”.

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