South African school goes solar through innovative global funding platform

South African school goes solar through innovative global funding platform
South African school goes solar through innovative global funding platform.
South African school goes solar through innovative global funding platform
South African school goes solar through innovative global funding platform.

Sun Exchange, a global solar micro-leasing marketplace has announced plans to solar power Western Cape Education Department schools. The first school in the series will be Protea Heights Academy in Cape Town.

Sun Exchange enables schools and businesses to have solar power installed with no upfront or on-going operational costs. With immediate savings on their energy bills from the first day the solar project is operational, schools can focus their resources on what they do best – education. Not only does this help schools save money in the short term, it also provides schools with some immunity against future electricity tariff hikes from ESKOM.

Sun Exchange schools projects provide an opportunity for people across the globe to own and lease solar cells to innovative, future-minded and sustainability-oriented schools like Protea Heights Academy. Through Sun Exchange, practically anyone, anywhere in the world can purchase solar cells which are then installed on the roof of schools and other organisations in developing regions. Solar cell owners earn an income stream from the electricity generated, while schools gain access to affordable clean energy for years to come.

Protea Heights Academy, a school of the Western Cape Department of Education, specialises in maths, sciences and technology. A hub for e-learning and advanced learning, the school already has a formidable reputation for excellence and futuristic, critical thinking in preparation for the fourth industrial revolution.

“Our school is a place where learners are empowered to compete globally and solve global problems,” said Wendy Horn, Principal of Protea Heights Academy. “With our focus on technology and innovation, it is a natural progression to transition the school away from fossil fuels.”

“The solar project supports the school’s goal to produce global citizens who embrace the United Nations Sustainable Development goals. Having the world come to our school, through investment, is a massive achievement. Sun Exchange and its members are helping us make that transition, by making solar accessible and affordable,” says Horn.

The learners at Protea Heights Academy are excited about the prospect of learning about the practical application and benefits of finance and energy innovation. According to Jonathan de Kock, a learner at the school, “the project even allows us learners to make investments into solar cells that will power our school, which teaches us important investment skills.”

Government plays a critical role as champions of innovation that benefits schools and learners, and that drive forward a country’s energy transformation. The Sun Exchange project at Protea Heights Academy and other schools are supported by both the Western Cape Department of Education, and the Western Cape Department of Economic Opportunities.

“I must congratulate Protea Heights Academy on their initiative to reduce their carbon footprint and to model climate leadership in education,” said Debbie Schäfer, Western Cape Minister of Education. “We have a responsibility to be more proactive in limiting our carbon footprint, but it has been too expensive for us to implement widely in schools. Thanks to this innovative approach, Protea Heights will, working with Sun Exchange, transition to lower cost, clean energy affordably, as well as use this opportunity to teach the learners about the technology and principles of entrepreneurship, and our role as a country in the Sustainable Development Goals. This really is an outstanding example of making learning come to life.”

Beverley Schäfer, Minister of Economic Opportunities for the Western Cape stated, “The province is committed to growing our green economy, and to transitioning our province, including our schools, away from coal-based, centralised electricity generation. By investing in technologies that build our resilience as a province, we are future-proofing our schools against rising energy prices.”

“Sustainability and the global transition to clean energy are at the core of our mission,” said Abraham Cambridge, Founder and CEO of Sun Exchange. “By solar powering schools across Africa, we’re driving forward this transition while showing future generations what is possible through technology innovation. We are delighted to be working with the Western Cape Department of Education and the Western Cape Ministry of Economic Opportunities to make clean power accessible to Protea Heights as the first of the Western Cape schools and many more schools to come.”

Sarmie Mommiez has been named as the designated charity for the project at Protea Heights Academy. Sarmie Mommiez is a registered non-profit organisation that uplift and

empower various impoverished communities in the Western Cape. Individuals who buy into the Protea Heights Academy solar project can choose to donate a proportion of their Sun Exchange revenue to Sarmie Mommiez.

The Protea Heights project will be the eighth Sun Exchange solar project in South Africa. The previous seven projects have already been successfully deployed, and are generating affordable, clean power for organisations across South Africa, while providing solar cell owners with a solar-powered income.

Sun Exchange has gained significant recognition and accolades as a leading solar finance innovator. In February the company was named among the Most Innovative Companies in Africa by Fast Company, it has been named among ESI Africa’s Power Elites two years running, and was recently named among the Top 100 Energy Transition Startups (SET100) by the German Energy Agency (dena).

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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