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Solar project ‘changing lives’


Twelve of the original trainee candidates are still in the incubator programme

SKILLS: Droogfontein Solar Power is supporting and funding the Solar Water Heating Enterprise Development programme. Picture: Supplied

DROOGFONTEIN Solar Power is putting its support and funding behind the Solar Water Heating Enterprise Development programme (SWHED) in Kimberley, a programme which is providing skills and jobs and creating local enterprises.

The Sol Plaatje project was piloted with 20 local young people to develop and test the implementation model of the Solar Water Heating Repair and Replace programme (SWHRR), with the vision of rolling out a larger pilot programme to additional municipalities in the Northern Cape as well as possibly Gauteng, before becoming a national initiative.

“This project is changing lives, with a number of these young people having already found either permanent employment or enrolled into full-time further studies after completing the initial SWH training,” Hlengiwe Radebe, economic development director of Droogfontein Solar Power, said.

“We aren’t just helping to provide hot water to low income households, using a renewable energy resource, but also creating sustainable employment and enterprises for youth and women in the solar water heating industry,” Radebe added.

Twelve of the original trainee candidates are still in the incubator programme and as fully qualified, skilled individuals can seek and participate either on their own or collectively in sustainable related commercial activities.

“The lessons learnt from this pilot project will now be rolled out to the Northern Cape in the Sol Plaatje Local Municipality and Barkly West and then move to other key areas,” Radebe explained.

The Department of Energy’s Independent Power Producer’s office performed a central and critical role in co-ordinating the various stakeholder groups as well as monitoring and quality assuring the project, as the implementing agent of the SWHRR programme.

The SWHED falls under the Department of Energy’s National Solar Water Heater programme which is designed as a socio-economic development programme to provide an environmentally benign energy source for residential water heating; restore confidence in the National Solar Water Heater programme through the repair or replacement of the old solar water heaters; increase local manufacturing capacity; create jobs, especially for youth and women; and drive local small and medium enterprise development and related skills development.