The installation of solar panels around Bulembu is a key component of the community’s Strategic Energy Plan that was developed in response to the growing energy shortages and price increases. Swaziland imports 60% of it’s energy from South Africa, a country that has been experiencing power outages at an increasing rate as the aging infrastructure struggles to keep up with demand. This has resulted in regular power outages in Bulembu, decreasing efficiency at the sawmill, bakery, water plant and other enterprises as workers stand idle waiting for the power to come back on. South Africa energy provider Eskom will be increasing their rates by 35% through 2011, and again in 2012.
In August, Bulembu submitted a proposal for solar panels to the Finish Government’s Energy and Environment Partnership facilitated by the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) for 100,000 Euros. This week, the application was approved!
Over the coming months, the team in Bulembu will begin to install nearly 200 PV photovoltaic solar panels around the community. Solar energy is essential to Bulembu’s overall energy strategy as it supplements and diversifies the foundational energy-producing unit, allowing a back-up strategy to ensure power continues to core services (clinic, school, etc.) during power failures. Appropriate diversification will also lead to overall cost savings for the community and will reduce traditional energy consumption, another step towards Bulembu’s vision to emerge as a self-sustaining community by 2020.
|Bosch solar panels that will be used for the project.|