Since the autumn of 2014, South Africa has faced an escalating number of power outages. South Africa used to be one of the only countries in Africa that provided its citizens with access to reliable electricity.
Cutting the costs
The systematic power-outages are known as load shedding in South Africa. Due to a lack of maintenance and investment, the national power company is struggling to provide nation-wide power. The company is working to find a solution, but the outages are expected to continue until the end of the year. On several occasions the entire country has been plunged into darkness. Fortunately for the Cape Town Children’s Village, blackouts are of little concern, thanks to the solar panels installed on all the family homes.
The Village is located in a middle-class neighbourhood in Cape Town. The nature of the area means higher rates of electricity and water which in turn means that the Children’s Village there spends more on these commodities than the other SOS Villages across the country. The solar panels reduce the cost of electricity for each family by more than a third.
An environmentally conscious countryCape Town is becoming increasingly environmentally-friendly, and is keen to encourage its citizens to choose greener energy options. Solar energy is obtained from sunlight, and the panels convert light energy into electricity. It is a renewable source of energy unlike fossil fuels such coal or gas.
Water can be heated, lights turned on and food cooked with solar energy. According to city officials, heating water uses the most electricity in mid-to-high level income homes.
“We are saving a lot of money as we switch off the geyser in the summer and the solar system generates energy from the sun. Because of our climate, it is actually close to nine months in the year that we can switch it off. This is really helpful,” says Bongi, an SOS mother at the Cape Town Village.
The children love a hot bath
With eight to ten children in each SOS family home, heating water can become expensive and unreliable. SOS aunt, Celiwe, explains that she is touched that donations enabled the Village to have the panels - they make daily life in the Village much easier and more affordable.
“We are really grateful for the solar panels! Now we can have a hot bath without worrying that there is no more hot water,” says Celiwe.