SU spinout GreenX secured a R6 million WCED contract to help Western Cape schools save electricity
The Western Cape Education Department recently awarded Stellenbosch University and Innovus spinout company GreenX Engineering the opportunity to pilot IoT energy management and lighting efficiency retrofits at 25 no-fee schools in the Western Cape and help them save on their electricity bills. The project, to the value of R6 million, will see GreenX doing extensive energy audits at the various schools to determine how they can retrofit them with energy-saving lights and meters to measure and manage their usage.
GreenX’s Chief Executive Officer, Jason Samuels, recently received his PhD in electrical engineering. His research led to substantial cost savings at schools in Stellenbosch and Paarl and the establishment of GreenX Engineering (GXE), thanks to Innovus, the University’s innovation and commercialisation division. Professors Thinus Booysen and Saartjie Grobbelaar were Samuels’ supervisors and are involved in GXE.
While doing his research, Samuels found that many schools are facing infrastructure and resource limitations and budgetary pressures, which create a need for schools to reduce their electricity usage, save money and, at the same time, get more in line with effective green technologies.
“We have already identified 100 no-fee schools in the Western Cape that will benefit from our energy interventions,” says Samuels. “We hope that after successfully completing the work on the first 25 schools, the WCED will extend our project to include the rest of the 75 schools. These energy interventions will result in use cost savings for the schools but would the WCED benefit greatly as they will have a blueprint to roll out to other schools in the region.”
Says Samuels: “We foresee that a school will be able to save anything between 20-40% on their energy bills, which could mean an average saving of around R3 000 per school per month and a total of R36 000 per year.”
The first school that benefited from Green X’s initiative was Cloetesville Primary School in Stellenbosch. Equipping the school with energy-saving technology resulted in them becoming the first school and second building in South Africa to receive an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). Samuels and his team are also starting a project to install photovoltaic (PV) panels on the school’s roof, which will result in further energy savings.
Hospitals on board
Samuels has also secured an opportunity with the hospital group MediClinic to conduct energy and water-saving audits on five of their hospital complexes (four in the Western Cape and one in Gauteng). As part of expanding the GreenX offering further, Samuels is targeting the hospitality industry by helping guest houses monitor and manage their electricity usage, leading to valuable cost savings.
Innovus, Stellenbosch University
15 De Beer Street
PO Box 3135
t +27 (0) 21 808 3826