Durban University of Technology’s energyDRIVE project receives the ‘best show award’ for innovation-creativity, concept and design, after competing with more than 300 local and international exhibitors, at the Africa Utility week in Cape Town recently.
In December last year (2016), Durban University of Technology’s (DUT) Energy Technology Station known as the KwaZulu-Natal Industrial Energy Efficient Training and Resources Centre (IEETR), which is based in the Department of Physics within the Applied Sciences Faculty, and the Energy and Water Sector Education and Training Authority (EWSETA), launched a major energy project, to educate rural communities on climate change and alternative energy sources through knowledge and skills transfer.
The energyDRive project, a custom-built truck, which cost about R3-million to design and construct and is now the first globally, is at the helm of Project leader, Prof Ian Joseph together with his team, Eugene Zeelie, Patrick Sibisi , Umsha Govender and as part of the team Rina Harichand .
The framework of the truck’s container was designed by the Energy Technology staff from the IEETR Centre at DUT and features a solar roof structure and a wind turbine mounting system, a bio-digester, a photovoltaic panel display unit, a solar hot water display unit and other demonstration equipment. The walls of the container are occupied by a battery bank, photovoltaic components, TV and display cupboards. Interactive demonstration models, alternative solar energy display wall units and an energy efficiency unit are also features of the container.
The truck is being used in national road shows targeting rural schools, and technical and vocational education and training colleges and exhibitions in South Africa to inform communities about the benefits and uses of renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency.
To date, the team have conducted roadshows in Johannesburg, the Eastern and Western Cape, Bloemfontein and KwaZulu-Natal and, through partnership once again with EWSETA, has successfully exhibited at four major energy conventions, winning awards in two.
According to Prof Lazarus, the project had its first roadshow in February 2017, also exhibiting the truck at the Africa Energy Indaba Conference at the Sandton Convention Centre. “The truck attracted attention from key role-players in South Africa and international organisations. The energyDRIVE truck was also popular amongst delegates and exhibition visitors, and received the runner-up award at this conference,” he said.
Tembisa West Secondary, KwaDukathole Secondary and CJ Botha Secondary Schools were stopped in the Johannesburg road-show, where pupils were given demonstrations on the use of alternative energy and were taught about climate change.
The truck recently returned to Johannesburg and was exhibited with EWSETA at the National Skills Authority Conference and the Power Supply and Electricity Conferences where it was once again well received.
En route to Cape Town, the truck also travelled to schools in Matatiele, Umtata and Port Elizabeth. After the conference, the truck visited John Ramsey High School in Bishop Lavis and demonstrated to the learners the various renewable energy technologies while introducing them to the opportunities as innovators and entrepreneurs in the energy field.
The truck was then exhibited at the Claremont Improvement Centre and at the Claremont Bus Terminus attracting a large number of school pupils and commuters who had an opportunity to be a part of the energyDRIVE project. On its return to KwaZulu-Natal, the energyDRIVE truck visited schools in Cape Town, Bloemfontein and Ladysmith.
The project will now set its sights on KwaZulu-Natal schools for the remainder of the year and then extend its travels both nationally and then into Africa, with Swaziland being the first neighbouring country.
This energyDRIVE project will further promote skills training courses in energy-related fields, such as energy management systems, renewable energy systems such as the design and installation of solar photovoltaic systems, solar water heaters, building energy auditing, to name but a few. An EWSETA accredited DUT Energy Skills Training Centre has been established at DUT and is based within the energy technology station.
“We are also developing photovoltaic kits to hand out at schools to demonstrate to learners that solar energy can be used as an alternative energy source and encourage young minds about possible alternative energy innovation ideas,” said Lazarus.
Pictured: The DUT energyDRIVE truck currently being used to spread knowledge about renewable energy.
Story: Prof Ian Lazarus-energyDRIVE Project leader