Maphephetheni, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa Dec. 15, 2000 SolarQuest® iNet News Service
THE four-hour tour to Myeka high school,in Midlands,KwaZulu-Natal by delegates attending US/Africa Ministers' of Minerals and Energy to find out how has the solar energy installed at the school has improved lives was outstanding.
Myeka poses as an example of a role solar energy can play to enhance lifestyles in rural areas that are underdeveloped.The tour unveiled the difference solar energy can make if installed in rural areas.
Through the combined use of solar energy, cellular and satellite technology, a first in Southern African schools, Myeka has now opened a computer laboratory that is equipped with the latest in PC Technology.
Located in the trasnquil KwaZulu-Natal Midlands of Maphephetheni, Myeka was one of the more than 16,400 schools in South Africa without electricity.
It also had no access to sophisticated technology,such as computers, which are regarded as standard in today's world.
Headmaster Mr Melusi Zwane's staff demonstrated to delegates how the connection of solar energy has contributed in the upliftment of their teaching methods and accessibility of information.
"We now have resourced centre and a computer room with 28 computers, we are also able to access internet which assist us in gathering information for lessons. Since we are far away from libraries and our community is poor, they cannot afford television which broadcast learning channel to assist students," writes Zwane.
He wrote that through installation of the solar energy power they are able to download information and a learning channel.
Myeka wrote that the weather station was provided by the University of Durban Westville. The station enables the school to find out weather forecast for a day and how it will affect the system that depends on the natural power of the sun.
"The total installation consists of two stand-alone solar system and one solar/LP gas hybrid system.
"Eskom installed the first, pole mounted, array in 1995. It originally delivered both DC and AC power to the principal's office and the domestic science classroom," wrote Zwane.
Mangosuthu Technikon installed the solar/LP gas hybrid system during 1997/98 in order to supply power to the new computer laboratory at the school as the existing Eskom could not supply this power even when fully functional.
The installation also included the wiring of the computer laboratoty, the fence and all security related to the system.
The distribution of the power at Myeka has developed as needs have changed. The Eskom/Shell solar arrays deliver power to the domestic science classroom, physical laboratory, resource centre, principals office and all the lights in the school.
An energy audit of all the existing loads at Myeka indicates that the panels can supply 75% of the load thus requiring the generator to deliver 25% of the needed power.
The 4.5 kW generator in therefore required to run for at least one hour per day to complement the solar input.