Situated 11km out of the Middleburg town centre, Doornkop was one of the first successful land claimants under the Restitution of Land Act and is now embracing the solar revolution. The development of this community has been constricted by the ongoing struggle for reliable energy to the area, with main power cables stolen on a regular basis in the past.
As part of the Urban-LEDS project being implemented in Steve Tshwete Local Municipality, the Doornkop community was identified as a showcase project. In April 2015 Doornkop hosted the countries first ever Renewable Energy Rural Expo, supported by the local municipality and ICLEI- Africa. Based on the significant amount of interest generated by the expo, ICLEI-Africa, through the Urban-LEDS project, has installed a solar PV system at the Doornkop community centre. The local community uses this for various purposes including a soup kitchen, community care offices and adult education. The initial system commissioned by ICLEI-Africa was only 5kW, but the system was upgraded to an 18kWp system after additional funding was provided by a local business, Yoctolux. The final system boasts 68x 260w solar panels, 32 batteries and six inverters. It can be used during the daytime for appliances in the community centre, crèche and old age day care centre, while also providing lighting at night.
The provision of power through the solar PV system paved the way for the introduction of additional security lights which were installed around the community centre and surrounding buildings. A solar streetlight was installed at the entrance to the centre to provide light to the surrounding area. Cognisance was also taken of the need for warm water, and two 150-litre solar water heaters were installed on the roof of the community centre and caretakers home.
For the first time the crèche and old age day care centre were supplied with plug points and internal lighting. Ceilings were installed in both buildings to improve the quality of internal spaces for the crèche and old age day care centre. This helps to keep the building warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
Borena Energy installed the solar PV system in August 2015, with SolarTech installing the solar water heater. Ten members from the local community were employed temporarily to assist with the implementation, while an additional community member provided security services overnight where the installation equipment was stored. Schneider Electric will also be giving training to the local community this week on energy efficiency, while capacitating local entrepreneurs to sell renewable energy products to the local community.
The Steve Tshwete Local Municipality has a vision to be the best community-driven local municipality through the provision of sustainable services and developmental programs. They are currently busy with the development of a low-emission development position statement, as well as a set of green building guidelines, which will help to guide the municipality and residents on this journey.