Driving home the renewable energy message

24th March 2017 By: David Oliveira - Creamer Media Staff Writer

The Energy and Water Skills Education and Training Authority (Ewseta) has unveiled an innovative mobile renewable-energy technology unit, which has been developed with the Durban University of Technology (DUT).

Known as energyDRIVE, the unit comprises a custom-built truck that will be used throughout the country in roadshows at rural schools and technical and vocational education and training colleges to inform communities about the benefits and uses of renewable- energy technologies.

Ewseta is the main sponsor of the truck, but other sponsors include financial institution Nedbank, petroleum company Caltex Chevron and utility metering solutions manufacturer Conlog.

“As Ewseta, we are mandated to drive the green economy and . . . to do that, we need to ensure sustainability in all energy solutions,” said corporate services executive Candice Moodley during the event.

She highlighted the importance of educating rural communities on the benefits of using renewable energy and how this contributed to a more sustainable future. “With our energyDRIVE truck, communities [can] see how renewable technology works; for example, what a solar panel looks like, understanding how it can help them with energy access, and how they can use waste to generate energy to power up a stove.”

The truck is a first for South Africa and was designed by DUT. The unit features a solar roof structure, a wind turbine system, a biodigester and a battery bank television, as well as display cupboards, interactive energy demonstration models and an energy efficiency unit.

The energyDRIVE project will also promote skills training courses in energy-related fields.

“Through this project, we are also educating the youth about career possibilities in the renewable-technology sector,” said Moodley, adding that there were new career possibilities in areas such as solar installations, and qualifying as a solar power plant technician or a wind energy engineer.

“[The youth] have probably never heard of these careers and this truck [will] create awareness and exposure where they would not have had that opportunity before. Education will open their minds to future possibilities,” Moodley averred.

She pointed out that a mobile renewable- energy unit would enable Ewseta to reach a greater number of stakeholders, particularly those in rural areas who would otherwise not have be exposed to the types of renewable- energy technologies on display at career days and exhibitions typically held in urban areas.