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Western Cape aims to take lead in tackling climate change, energy efficiency - 9 May 2008

The Western Cape provincial government has cemented its commitment to developing renewable energy sources through the launch of South Africa's first solar water geyser project in Kwanokuthula in the Western Cape.

As part of this project, 60 Eskom-accredited solar water geysers have already been installed at the Kwanokuthula community near Riversdale and 60 new jobs have been created for previously unemployed people in the area, most of which are women.

This project forms part of the commitment made by Western Cape Premier Ebrahim Rasool earlier this year to help address the national energy crisis.

In his State of the Province address, Rasool said that the provincial government would roll out 1 000 solar water geysers in order to help save 500 MW a day as part of the Western Cape's measures to address the national electricity emergency.

The installation of these solar water geysers in Kwanokuthula is the initial stage in a phased roll out. The remaining geysers will be installed in Nyanga, Elsies River and Atlantis during the course of the year.

In support of this project the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning will issue a tender in the next two months for the establishment of training academy to build solar geyser installation capacity.

The academy will provide skills training to 250 unemployed people over a six-month period and graduates will receive a South African Qualifications Authority certificate.

Western Cape MEC for Environment, Planning and Economic Development Tasneem Essop says that the implementation of this project has signalled the province's declaration to ‘go green' and has demonstrated its commitment to become the national leader in the development and use of renewable energy sources.

Essop believes that the launch of the first solar water geyser project will tackle three emergencies that the Western Cape and the rest of the world are currently facing simultaneously, namely climate change, energy saving and poverty.

This project is being implemented amongst the Western Cape's poorest communities as Essop believes climate change is a poverty issue and that the poor will be the most affected by climate change.

"We have conducted research on climate change and we know that the parts of our community that will be hit the hardest by climate change are the poor.," states Essop.

"The launch of this solar water geyser legacy project is an attempt by the Provincial Government of the Western Cape to bring renewable energy into our poorer areas. "

"We know that the wealthy in society consume the most electricity per person and that they can afford to install solar energy but for the people of this area it is a simple question of access to hot water."

Thus, Essop contends that this legacy project is servicing a critical need in the Western Cape's poorest communities.

Essop concludes that the lauch of the solar geyser project will help to reduce the province's dependency on fossil fuels, reduce its carbon footprint and will hopefully help to achieve a 10% saving in energy consumption in the near future.

By Jade Davenport on Engineering News