In a bid to help mitigate South Africa’s power shortage crisis through knowledge, the Durban University of Technology, in collaboration with partners, has launched a national community engagement project – a first of its kind in Africa – that will raise awareness about alternative energy resources as well as climate change.
The DUT energyDRIVE Project, which is being run in partnership with the Energy and Water Seta (EWSETA), Nedbank, Caltex Chevron and Conlog, was launched on Tuesday this week (06 December 2016) at the DUT Ritson Campus. The project was initiated by the DUT Technology Transfer and Innovations and the University’s Energy Technology Station (IEETR Centre) as a result of the current global challenges relating to climate change and renewable energy.
The project – which has set its sights on making a significant impact on the lives of approximately 500 000 pupils nationwide – will drive its aims using a truck with a custom designed container equipped with renewable energy equipment. The framework of the container was designed by the Energy Technology staff. The unit features a solar roof structure and wind turbine mounting system, bio-digester, photovoltaic panel display unit as well as a solar hot water display unit. 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 featured in the container.
energyDRIVE Project lead researcher, Professor Ian Lazarus, said the energyDRIVE truck will create awareness on the use and benefits of clean energy. “This fitted truck will take in the form of a roadshow where it will be visiting mainly rural schools and TVET colleges nationally”, he said.
The unit project will also participate in national exhibitions specifically aimed at entrepreneurs, unemployed youth, prospective DUT students as well as scholars. This will in turn create awareness about natural, alternative and renewable energy resources, demonstrate the use of natural renewable energy technologies and promote skilled training courses in energy.
The project comes as renewable energy is widely discussed across South Africa following the power crisis in the country as well as the negative effect on the environment due to the excessive burning of fossil fuels. Various research has indicated that clean energy is not only cost effective, but also assists in reducing air pollution as well as poor environmental and health effects caused by gas from coal.
Faculty of Applied Sciences Executive Dean, Professor Suren Singh, said the energyDRIVE Project is leading innovation at its best. “We further view this energyDRIVE launch as an energizer from KZN to the rest of South Africa. I must say this is a flagship project that demonstrates green technology and creates public awareness especially in engaging with communities,” said Prof Singh.
– Noxolo Memela
Pictured: Project key drivers Ineeleng Molefe,COO: EWSETA; Errol Gradwell, CEO: EWSETA; Tshego Bokaba, Nedbank Eyethu Community Trust Portfolio Manager; Professor Ian Lazarus, Station Manager: KZN IEETR Centre; Professor Suren Singh, Executive Dean: Faculty of Applied Sciences; Zama Ntshele-Zulu, Business Manager: Conlog; Mpho Mokabelo, CFO: EWSETA and Tumi Kgosi,Conlog: Executive Assistant/FED Co-ordinator.