SANEDI assists the SA National Defence Force with going green

South Africa

Submitted by Dr Karen Surridge
Published 4 years, 4 months ago

From 2014 to 2016, SANEDI, as a government partner, was invited to speak about renewable energy and energy efficiency at national level at the Department of Defence (DoD) Annual Environmental Seminar.

SOLTRAIN visits Regional Works Unit (RWU) Limpopo in connection with potential collaboration and training/skills development support.

Through this relationship, SANEDI was subsequently invited to speak at a provincial environmental forum to contribute towards improving energy usage and assist in advising towards compliance with the DODs environmental and energy strategy at military installations in Limpopo region.

SANEDI representatives have to date attended several exploratory trips to military installations at different scales throughout Limpopo Province in order to assess energy needs and to be able to provide preliminary informed advice on plausible, sustainable renewable energy and energy efficiency interventions. SANEDI now has a formal agreement to act as an implementing arm for DoD on identified collaborative projects that will address energy needs.

An initial project will entail the construction and operationalization of two 1 500 litre Solar Water Heating (SWH) systems at a pre-selected military base in Limpopo province. Since DoD is already constantly undertaking installation, maintenance and repair of water heating infrastructure at its units, this project aims to support and build capacity in this space for the DoD and its members. This can be achieved by implementing an energy efficient, renewable energy hardware system that supports human capacity development (HCD) as well as contributing towards reduced energy costs and reliable water heating energy security.

These developments have a great deal of overlap with the Austrian-funded bi-lateral project called the Solar Thermal Training & Demonstration Initiative (SOLTRAIN) which aims to tackle similar needs and create opportunities through addressing the SWH sector across six partner countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), namely, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia,

SOLTRAIN visits Regional Works Unit (RWU) Limpopo in connection with potential collaboration and training/skills development support.

Left to right: Cpt. (now Maj.) Shivhishi ; Mr Werner Weiss (Director AEE ITEC); Col. Benedict Manzini (Officer Commanding RWU Limpopo); Lt. Col. Hennie Davel (Chief Environmental Officer RWU Limpopo); Dr. Karen Surridge (RECORD Centre Manager, SANEDI)

South Africa, and Zimbabwe. All these partner countries are pursuing policies that enhance security of supply, energy conservation and increase energy access. Furthermore, in all partner countries there are national plans and policies on the support to increase the use of solar thermal systems in place.

Starting in 2009, SOLTRAIN aims to support the national solar thermal plans and is currently in its third 3-year-long phase, through the initiative, parties are able to apply (through the appointed contractor) to the SOLTRAIN programme for financial support towards SWH systems and artisan training (elaborated in a subsequent project agreement). SANEDI, supported by the Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRSES) at University of Stellenbosch, is the national implementing partner for the SOLTRAIN programme in South Africa.

In this regard, RECORD (Renewable Energy Centre Of Research and Development) at SANEDI, has been hard at work procuring a SWH system for the DoD, the first of several collaborative projects taking place between SANEDI and the DoD after the signing of a 5-year Memorandum of Agreement on 16 July 2018. The project is expected to be partially supported through SOLTRAIN funding and will be implemented by SANEDI, thus cementing the interaction of SANEDI, the DoD and SOLTRAIN in the upcoming fourth phase commencing in July 2019.

This SWH installation will provide hot water to two accommodation bungalows that are used to accommodate military members, approximately half of which are female, performing medical tasks. Furthermore, four DoD members will be trained to maintain this system and will shadow the contractor during installation and maintenance.

In a similar vein, RECORD has delivered a number of training sessions on renewable energy, energy efficiency and SWH system understanding and awareness at several military units, in order to prepare members for the upcoming projects.

Furthermore, SANEDI and RECORD, under the banner of SOLTRAIN, are conducting half-day awareness sessions including the basics of renewable energy and energy efficiency with a focus on how SWH works, and how it can make a difference at varying scales.

This includes an experiment conducted from a worksheet designed originally for School Science clubs known as the Science Spazas. In the experiment, members of the South African National Defence Force get to test the hypothesis behind why heating water with the sun really works. In fact, at the most recent session, after only three and a half hours in the sun, the test water had reached a whopping 660 Celsius! There is nothing like a touch and feel exercise to prove science.