Playing with Solar 2017

03 April 2017

On Saturday 1 April, Phase 1 of Project 90 by 2030’s (Project 90) low-carbon project Playing with Solar came to an end. For the past 7 weeks, learners from 10 different school-based Leadership Clubs across Cape Town, came together to build solar Lightboxes at Rhodes High School in Mowbray.

A solar Lightbox is a small unit consisting of a 40W solar panel, a battery and a charge controller. On a full charge, it is able to power three LED lights and charge a cell phone. The blueprint of the Lightbox was designed in-house by Project 90 to meet the basic energy needs in un-electrified settings and can be assembled without the need for highly specialised tools or training.

The Project 90 team worked in partnership with Stefano Semprini from Solarus Sunpower to create the 7-week Playing with Solar programme.

Based upon the foundations of Project 90’s three core youth-leadership themes – powerful communication, teamwork and realising one’s own potential; Playing with Solar participants worked in mixed school teams and together, went on an experiential journey to develop their knowledge and skills on the basics of electricity and solar energy.

Springfield Convent High School learner Kea Mukasa said: “The project as a whole has sparked an interest in me to potentially embark in engineering, as I have thoroughly enjoyed making the Lightboxes. Stefano’s presentations have opened my eyes to the potential that Africa has to harvest its abundance of solar energy to power the continent and thus further the development of Africa.

Towards the end of the project the young participants were given the task to identify potential community sites for the installation of the completed Lightboxes. They had to consider: the sites’ distance from Cape Town, the purpose and benefits installing Lightboxes at the given sites, the security of the sites and who would be responsible for the Lightboxes after installation. In teams, the participants presented their findings back to the rest of the group.

In Phase 2 of Playing with Solar, the participants will be given the opportunity to help install the Lightboxes and engage with the community members at the installation sites.

Project 90’s Youth Leadership Development Coordinator Daniel Robinson said: “It was incredible to see the change in the participants over the course of the project. To see the friendships evolve and their increased appreciation and understanding of the need and benefits for renewable energy production in South Africa and the world.”

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ABOUT PROJECT 90 BY 2030: The organization Project 90 by 2030 was conceived at a time in South Africa when the impacts of climate change were becoming increasingly evident, with very few solution-focused initiatives in operation in the country. From the onset, we saw the need to tackle the climate change challenge head-on. Our name reflects our ambition of bringing about significant (90%) change by South Africans in how we engage with earth systems. Specifically, we are looking at fundamentally changing how South Africans access and use resources (such as energy), and contribute to a low-carbon society. Visit www.90by2030.org.za for more information.

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