Power to the people - courtesy of the sun

12 December 2014 - 02:14 By Roxanne Henderson
INSIDE AGENTS: Eskom's Kusile power station, still under construction, will not rely on coal for power to run its canteen after these solar panels were installed at the site in Mpumalanga.
INSIDE AGENTS: Eskom's Kusile power station, still under construction, will not rely on coal for power to run its canteen after these solar panels were installed at the site in Mpumalanga.
Image: TOMMY DAVIES/GLIIMO

Solar panels for homes are flying off shelves. But that's just the start of it.

South Africans are adding a solar panel to everything from ATMs and cars to school bags and radios.

Most parts of the country have an average of 2500 hours of sunshine a year, according to the Department of Energy.

And local businesses are using this freely available resource to innovate products and business solutions.

"Solar technology is something that already exists; we just harnessed it to power our ATMs in areas that are regularly affected by power outages," said Wayne Abramson, CEO of ATM Solutions.

The company started rolling out solar-powered ATMs to the "under-banked" population in rural areas in Mpumalanga, Limpopo and Gauteng in September. Now it is connecting solar panels to ATMs on a daily basis.

"With blackouts becoming more prevalent, we will be implementing the solution to high-traffic, high-demand areas in [cities] too," Abramson said.

Another innovation being snapped up is the solar lamp that comes complete with a cellphone charger.

IT company Net 1 Mobile Solutions has announced it will soon pilot a similar product, but with an added function - Wi-Fi.

The new solar lamp will be distributed to rural communities early next year in partnership with the Department of Social Development to bring households the power to light their homes, charge their cellphones and surf the web free of charge.

Rustenburg entrepreneurs Thato Kgatlhanye and Rea Ngwane make school bags fitted with solar lights, designed for pupils in rural areas - but have had a lot of feedback from mothers in urban areas.

X