Stellenbosch Green School
Now even greener thanks to a new solar panel system

Stellenbosch Green School



12 AUGUST 2022

Stellenbosch Green School is now even greener thanks to a new solar panel system

A year ago, Cloetesville Primary School became the first school in South Africa to receive an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) after Stellenbosch University and Innovus spinout company GreenX Engineering (GXE) installed energy-saving technology at this school. Today (Friday, 12 August 2022), this popular Stellenbosch school, known as the Green School (Die Groen Skool), received a 7.5kW solar panel (photo voltaic) system which will generate approximately 14MWh (14 000 units) of electricity per year, negating almost 13 tonnes of CO2 annually and saving of R20 000 per year while selling electricity back to the grid.

Behind this new Innovus startup is the team of GreenX led by Dr Jason Samuels, who, at the end of 2021, received his PhD in electrical engineering; research that led to energy cost savings at schools in the Stellenbosch and Paarl region. Samuels’ mentor Prof Thinus Booysen, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, and Prof Saartjie Grobbelaar, a professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering, are both involved in the company.

Under SU's Senior Director of Social Impact and Transformation, Dr Leslie van Rooi's leadership, SU's Department of Social Impact and the Faculty of Engineering ran a campaign in 2021 in which they replaced lights at 25 no-fee or low-fee schools to help reduce their electricity expenses and in so doing reducing the burden on Eskom and the environment. "We managed to reduce the schools’ energy bills with anything from 21% to as much as 39%," said Prof Booysen.

Thanks to funds still available after the initial project was completed, they could install a solar plant at Die Groen Skool. As a separate project in 2018, the team ran an industry-funded pilot where they installed a few solar panels at Rhenish Primary, AF Louw Primary and Laerskool Stellenbosch. The very favourable results motivated Rhenish to install a large solar plant and donate the solar panels of the pilot to Cloetesville Primary.

Dr Van Rooi said Stellenbosch University remains committed to partnerships with local schools on many levels. “We do this specifically to impact our schools and communities positively. It is wonderful that we can also contribute to the learning opportunities of Cloetesville Primary in this way. My sincere appreciation to our colleagues and the school community that we can work together in this way.”

Dr Van Rooi said that since the school now has a 10kW inverter, SU will donate a few more solar panels to ensure the plant can run at full capacity.

At the small ceremony at Cloetesville Primary this morning, Mr Salie Abrahams, the Deputy-Director General: Education Planning at the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), said this project shows what schools can do to help communities to recover from a very difficult period. “Today is a fantastic day. Here we see first-hand how schools can take on a broader role in communities, providing services that can help rejuvenate them. With this creative project, we see how schools can both help to address the national energy crisis and improve the resilience and general wellbeing of the local community of Cloetesville. We now need to find a way to develop a scalable model where we can roll this out to more schools so that more communities can benefit from this innovation.” Abrahams said the Western Cape Government and WCED want to participate in this process. “We see moving this project forward as a priority and look forward to building the partnerships to create the platform needed to get as many schools as possible on board. This project has the full support of the WCED going forward,” said Abrahams.

Mr Alex Hall, principal of Rhenish, said today is a celebration of the human spirit of making this dream a reality. “We are privileged to have installed our own solar plant this year with a 22kW inverter which saves them 42 MWatt hours per year. “We are especially proud of the 40 tonnes of carbon emissions we save. It is with great pride that we could give back to the Stellenbosch community in this way,” said Hall.

In thanking the partners of this project, Cloetesville Primary headmaster, Mr Rodger Cupido, said the school will not only see the financial benefits of this energy-saving system but is now part of a more significant learning process that they can take to their community. "We are excited to be part of this and very thankful to all the partners involved. It is fantastic to have all these people here who are making a difference, and we hope to build on this relationship in future on our green journey as the Green School.”


More schools to benefit

The WCED recently awarded 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, saw 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.

“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 huge cost savings for the schools but would benefit the WCED 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.”



On Friday, 12 August, the University's Senior Director of Social Impact and Transformation, Dr Leslie van Rooi, and the principal of Rhenish Primary, Mr Alex Hall, handed over the solar plant to the principal of Cloetesville Primary, Mr Rodger Cupido. The handover took place at Cloetesville Primary at 9 am (Friday 12 August).


Photo Caption:

From left to right: Mr Salie Abrahams, the Deputy Director-General (education) at the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), Dr Leslie van Rooi, SU's Senior Director: Social Impact and Transformation, Prof Saartjie Grobbelaar, a professor in SU's Department of Industrial Engineering, Mr Rodger Cupido, principal Cloetesville Primary School, Dr Jason Samuels, Mr Alex Hall, principal of Rhenish Primary School and prof. Thinus Booysen, a professor in SU's Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.


Media enquiries
Petro Mostert
M 0823346193


Stellenbosch se Groen Skool is nou nog groener met ‘n nuwe sonpaneel-stelsel 

’n Jaar gelede het Laerskool Cloetesville die eerste skool in Suid-Afrika geword wat ’n Energieprestasiesertifikaat (EPC) ontvang het nadat die Universiteit Stellenbosch en die Innovus afwentelmaatskappy GreenX Engineering (GXE) energiebesparende tegnologie by dié skool geïnstalleer het. Vandag (Vrydag, 12 Augustus 2022) het hierdie gewilde Stellenbosse skool, bekend as die Groen Skool, 'n 7.5kW sonpaneel (fotovoltaïese) stelsel ontvang wat ongeveer 14MWh (14 000 eenhede) elektrisiteit per jaar sal opwek. Die stelsel sal jaarliks ​​byna 13 ton koolstofdioksied negeer en R20 000 per jaar bespaar terwyl hulle elektrisiteit aan die netwerk terugverkoop.

Agter hierdie jong Innovus-maatskappy sit die span van GreenX onder die leiding van dr Jason Samuels, wat aan die einde van 2021 sy PhD in elektriese ingenieurswese ontvang het; navorsing wat gelei het tot energiekostebesparings by skole in die Stellenbosch- en Paarl-streek. Samuels se mentor prof Thinus Booysen, 'n professor in die Departement Elektriese en Elektroniese Ingenieurswese, en prof Saartjie Grobbelaar, 'n professor in die Departement Bedryfsingenieurswese, is albei by die maatskappy betrokke.

Onder die US se Senior Direkteur van Sosiale Impak en Transformasie, dr Leslie van Rooi se leierskap, het die US se Departement Sosiale Impak en die Fakulteit Ingenieurswese in 2021 'n veldtog begin en ligte by 25 geen- of lae-fooi-skole te vervang om so die skole te help om hul elektrisiteitsuitgawes en die las op Eskom en die omgewing te verminder. “Ons het daarin geslaag om die skole se energierekeninge met enigiets van 21% tot soveel as 39% te verminder,” het prof Booysen gesê.

Danksy nog beskikbare fondse nadat die aanvanklike projek voltooi is, kon hulle 'n sonkragaanleg by Die Groen Skool installeer. In 'n afsonderlike projek in 2018 het die span 'n toetsprojek begin waar hulle 'n paar sonpanele by Rhenish Primêr, AF Louw Primêr en Laerskool Stellenbosch geïnstalleer het. Die projek se gunstige resultate het Rhenish gemotiveer om 'n groot sonkragaanleg te installeer en die sonpanele van die toetsprojek aan Cloetesville Primêr te skenk.

Dr Van Rooi het gesê die Universiteit Stellenbosch bly verbind tot vennootskappe met plaaslike skole op baie vlakke. “Ons doen dit spesifiek om ons skole en gemeenskappe positief te beïnvloed. Dit is wonderlik dat ons ook so kan bydra tot die leergeleenthede van Cloetesville Laerskool. My opregte waardering aan ons kollegas en die skoolgemeenskap dat ons op hierdie manier kan saamwerk.”

Dr Van Rooi het gesê aangesien die skool nou 'n 10kW-omskakelaar het, sal die US nog 'n paar sonpanele skenk om te verseker dat die aanleg op volkapasiteit kan werk.

Op die klein seremonie by Cloetesville Laerskool vanoggend, het mnr Salie Abrahams, die Adjunk Direkteur-generaal: Onderwysbeplanning by die Wes-Kaapse onderwysdepartement (WKOD), gesê hierdie projek wys wat skole kan doen om gemeenskappe te help om te herstel na 'n baie moeilike tydperk . “Vandag is 'n fantastiese dag. Hier sien ons eerstehands hoe skole 'n breër rol in gemeenskappe kan vervul deur dienste te verskaf wat hulle kan help ophef. Met hierdie kreatiewe projek sien ons hoe skole kan help om die nasionale energiekrisis aan te spreek en die veerkragtigheid en algemene welstand van die plaaslike gemeenskap van Cloetesville te verbeter. Ons moet nou ’n manier vind om ’n skaalbare model te ontwikkel waar ons dit na meer skole kan uitrol sodat meer gemeenskappe by hierdie innovasie kan baat.” Abrahams het gesê die Wes-Kaapse regering en WKOD wil aan hierdie proses deelneem. “Om hierdie projek vorentoe te beweeg is vir ons 'n prioriteit en ons sien uit daarna om die vennootskappe te bou wat die nodige platform sal skep om soveel skole as moontlik aan boord te kry. Hierdie projek het die volle ondersteuning van die WKOD vorentoe,” het Abrahams gesê.

Mnr Alex Hall, skoolhoof van Rhenish, het gesê vandag is 'n viering van die menslike gees om hierdie droom 'n werklikheid te maak. “Ons was bevoorreg om hierdie jaar ons eie sonkragaanleg te installeer met 'n 22kW-omskakelaar wat ons 42 MWatt-ure per jaar gaan bespaar. “Ons is veral trots op die 40-ton koolstofvrystellings wat ons gaan negeer. Dit is met groot trots dat ons op hierdie manier aan die Stellenbosch-gemeenskap iets kon teruggee,” het Hall gesê.

Met die dank aan die vennote van hierdie projek, het Cloetesville Laerskool se skoolhoof, mnr Rodger Cupido, gesê die skool sal nie net die finansiële voordele van hierdie energiebesparende stelsel ervaar nie, maar hulle is nou deel van 'n meer betekenisvolle leerproses wat hulle na hul gemeenskap kan neem. "Ons is opgewonde om deel hiervan te wees en baie dankbaar vir al die betrokke vennote. Dit is fantasties om al hierdie mense hier te hê wat 'n verskil maak, en ons hoop om voort te bou op hierdie verhouding op ons groen reis as die Groen Skool."


Meer skole bevoordeel

Die WKOD het onlangs aan GreenX Engineering die geleentheid gegee om IoT-energiebestuur en beligtingsdoeltreffendheid-opgraderings te loods by 25 geen-fooiskole in die Wes-Kaap en hulle te help om op hul elektrisiteitsrekeninge te bespaar. Vir hierdie R6 miljoen-projek, het GreenX uitgebreide energie-oudits by die verskillende skole gedoen om te bepaal hoe hulle hulle met energiebesparende ligte en meters die skole kan help om hul energiegebruik te meet en te bestuur.

“Ons het reeds 100 geen-fooi-skole in die Wes-Kaap geïdentifiseer wat by ons energie-ingrypings sal baat vind,” sê Samuels. “Ons hoop dat na die suksesvolle voltooiing van die werk aan die eerste 25 skole, die WKOD ons projek sal uitbrei om die res van die 75 skole in te sluit. Hierdie energie-ingrypings sal gebruikskostebesparings vir die skole teweeg bring, en ook die WKOD grootliks bevoordeel, aangesien hulle 'n bloudruk sal hê om na ander skole in die streek uit te rol.”

Samuels sê: "Ons voorsien dat 'n skool enigiets tussen 20-40% op hul energierekeninge sal kan bespaar, wat 'n gemiddelde besparing van sowat R3 000 per skool per maand en 'n totaal van R36 000 per jaar kan beteken."



Op Vrydag, 12 Augustus het die Universiteit se Senior Direkteur: Sosiale Impak en Transformasie, dr. Leslie van Rooi, en die skoolhoof van Rhenish Laerskool, mnr Alex Hall, die panele van ‘n sonkragaanleg aan die skoolhoof van Cloetesville Laerskool, mnr Rodger Cupido oorhandig.

Die oorhandiging het om 9 vm (Vrydag 12 Augustus) by Cloetesville Primêr plaasgevind.



Onderskrif vir foto:

Van links na regs: Mnr Salie Abrahams, die Adjunk Direkteur-generaal (onderwys) by die Wes-Kaapse Onderwysdepartement (WKOD), dr. Leslie van Rooi, die US se Senior Direkteur: Sosiale Impak en Transformasie, Prof Saartjie Grobbelaar, 'n professor in die US se Departement Bedryfsingenieurswese, mnr Rodger Cupido, skoolhoof Cloetesville Laerskool, dr. Jason Samuels, mnr Alex Hall, skoolhoof van Rhenish Laerskool en prof. Thinus Booysen, 'n professor in die US se Departement Elektriese en Elektroniese Ingenieurswese.


Media enquiries
Petro Mostert
M 0823346193