It’s hard to believe that in this age of technology where people live in space (on the International Space Station), talking with someone around the world via video calls or text messaging is standard practice, and cars can parallel park themselves, there are places in the world where electricity is seen as magnificent opulence. While Bulembu does have electricity, its geographic location requires long power lines, leaving the electrical supply it does have quite unpredictable. The town’s inhabitants often encounter extreme frequency fluctuations and power outages, not to mention astronomically high monthly bills.
Bulembu’s current power supply comes from the Swaziland Electricity Company, which sources 60 – 80% of its energy by the burning of non-renewal fossil fuels. Bulembu Ministries Swaziland was looking for a solution but, as a non-profit organization, they needed to obtain external funding for whatever strategy they developed. Keeping in mind the goal of self-sustainability and a desire to move toward clean renewable energy, BMS developed a plan to establish a Solar PV (photo-voltaic) plant, or a Solar Array. And Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) and the Energy and Environment Partnership (EEP) provided external funding.
SAR Electronic SA, the South Africa division of SAR Group, was recruited to design and install the plant. SAR Electronic SA’s green energy efforts are focused on the generation of energy from natural resources, matching perfectly with Bulembu’s desire to shift in the direction of clean renewable energy for the town.
The plant in Bulembu consists of “108 Bosch Mono-crystalline solar modules and two SMA STP 12000 inverters.” Sounds pretty technical but whatever all of that stuff is, it will produce 25 kilowatts of electricity. That’s about 8% of the electricity requirement of the town.
Eight-percent doesn’t sound like a lot, but the installation is destined to bring some relief and stabilize the power challenges Bulembu has been facing. And for a non-profit organization, every little bit is a tremendous help on the way to meeting their goals by 2020. This new Solar Array is definitely giving power to the people.
By: Theresia Whitfield