One of the main objectives of the SA Climate Change Champs 2023 Renewable Energy Challenge (REC) was to provide practical learning and awareness on renewable energy beyond the classroom. To do this, the regional finalists that participated in the national final round of the competition were brought to Cape Town to tour renewable energy facilities and institutions.
To get to the various destinations, the group was transported by an electric bus, provided by Golden Arrow Bus Services (GABS), showcasing the application of renewable energy for sustainable transport (read here). The programme started off with a site visit of the South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre (SARETEC). “SARETEC is the first national renewable energy technology centre in South Africa and has been established at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) – Bellville campus, Cape Town, South Africa. SARETEC expedites specialized industry-related and accredited training for the entire renewable energy industry including short courses and workshops.” (Source: SARETEC. Available here)
The climate champs were warmly welcomed by Sven Pietrangeli, Operations Manager of the facility, and his team before listening in on an informative presentation on the training needs and opportunities in renewable energy in South Africa. The main focus of the day was to highlight the skills and qualifications needed in the renewable energy space and the suite of career and job opportunities in the sector. The learners were then guided on a tour of the institution, showcasing the classrooms, equipment, machinery and infrastructure, many of which came into contact with solar panels and wind turbines for the first time.
On the next day, the learners visited Ener-G-Africa (EGA), again via the GABS electric bus that departed from the Cape Town International Convention Centre after Enlit Africa conference. “EGA is one of the leading manufacturing energy companies in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a multi-disciplinary team focused on the development of sustainable energy solutions with distribution throughout the continent.” (Source: EGA. Available here)
The learners enjoyed an interactive tour, led by Rene Salmon, Solar Procedure Manager at EGA, introducing the brand new solar panel assembly plant that has recently been established in Cape Town. The learners toured the distribution and manufacturing facility, being introduced to the different touch points where renewable energy is incorporated. Here, learners were made aware of how solar PV panels are assembled and experienced how each of the various parts plays a role in turning sunlight into electricity. A key learning that was shared was the costs associated with acquiring solar panels as many did not know that solar panels were so affordable to purchase especially for household use – with costs starting from as little as R300. An empowering takeaway from the visit was the number of women that were operating and plying their technical skills at the facility, which was an encouraging message to the young girls that were present.
We would like to thank SARETEC and Ener-G-Africa for their time and effort put into guiding the REC participants on a tour of their facilities and for the welcoming hospitality during the visit. Most importantly, we thank these institutions for their valuable contribution to the learners’ practical experience and understanding of renewable energy.