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Drive for clean energy hits the road

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The 2023 EnergyDRIVE, a renewable energy educational initiative, has begun its journey in the Northern Cape, a region at the epicentre of South Africa’s renewable energy generation.

Young learners interact with the EnergyDRIVE truck. Picture: Supplied

THE 2023 EnergyDRIVE, a renewable energy educational initiative, has begun its journey in the Northern Cape, a region at the epicentre of South Africa’s renewable energy generation.

The EnergyDRIVE truck commenced its journey in October with a visit to Aggeneys, a small town located in the Khâi-Ma Local Municipality in the Northern Cape.

Learners from Aggeneys High School, Gariep High School and Prieska High School were the first to experience the EnergyDRIVE.

Participants of this year’s programme included 22 primary and high schools from Golden Valley Wind Farm, Aggenneys Solar Farm and KonkoonsiesII Solar, Loeriesfontein Wind Farm and Khobab Wind Farm, Noblesfontein Wind Farm, Soetwater Wind Farm – Sutherland, Dorper Wind Farm, Nojoli and Gibson Bay Wind Farms, Perdekraal East Wind Farm, Karusa Wind Farm – Laingsburg, and Klipheuwel Wind Farm – Caledon.

The schools, situated in close proximity to Aggeneys Solar Farm, Konkoonsies Solar and MBP Solar were provided with a unique opportunity to explore the world of renewable energy.

The Northern Cape boasts the largest share of Independent Power Producers (IPPs) in wind, solar and concentrated solar power (CSP), making it a strategic starting point for this year’s programme.

The edu-trainer commenced its voyage form Cape Town, making its way across more than 20 rural communities, including its outreach to the Eastern and Western Cape provinces.

The heart of this programme lies in the communities that it serves, with a strong focus on educating and engaging learners.

The EnergyDRIVE is made possible through the support of IPPs, particularly the wind farms, and even three solar projects, which have eagerly invited the bus to their neighbouring host communities.

The CEO of South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA), Niveshen Govender, underscored the core objectives of the initiative.

Govender highlighted that community development and education are at the heart of the initiative.

“The demonstrations, experiential learning, and tools for implementing energy-saving habits are all on the agenda this year. Our goal is to empower young minds with knowledge about climate change, energy efficiency and sustainable living,” said Govender.

The journey continued to Loeriesfontein, where learners from Loeriesfontein Primary School and Loeriesfontein Hoërskool had the chance to visit Loeriesfontein and Khobab Wind Farms, offering them hands-on experience in the realm of renewable energy.

The learners in the Northern Cape are in for an unforgettable experience as wind farms open their doors to the next generation, providing a unique opportunity to learn and experience the power of renewable energy.

“The EnergyDRIVE’s adaptable design is ideally suited to connect with high school learners in the communities that surround wind and solar IPPs in the Northern Cape and other areas of the country. Many of these regions are isolated and might not have ample knowledge about green technologies.

“Our aspiration is that this hands-on approach will ignite enthusiasm, empower learners, and inspire them to become proactive contributors to the renewable energy sector,” said Govender.

It is envisaged that the EnergyDRIVE will have reached over 7,000 learners in Grades 9 to 12, showcasing its significant impact in promoting renewable energy technologies in outlying communities close to wind farms and a few solar PV farms across the country by the end of this year’s journey.

This is made possible by the enduring partnership between SAWEA and key institutions, including the Durban University of Technology (DUT), the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) and the Energy and Water Sector Education Training Authority (EWSETA).

It has been further strengthened with the inclusion of the Green Youth Network.

This partnerships emphasise the commitment to community development, education, and sustainability.

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