Rural SA school now on solar power

As of 9 December 2011 the Mafa Max School, a rural school in Mpumalanga is now running on solar-power. The project was undertaken and donated by GXSunresources, Donauer Solartechnik and SAR, and it can be duplicated anywhere in Africa. “Small steps on the road to new energy,” says Dr Mike Seeger who has used his personal finances, earned through his participation in the coal mining sector, to pioneer renewable energy projects for South Africa. A laudable entrepreneur, he is the founder and director of GX Energie, a renewable energy company, with offices in South Africa and Germany.

Mike Seeger handing over the solar power plant to Mafa Max School Prinicapl Vusi Nzimande.
“I am originally from Germany and it opened my eyes to what is being achieved there and in other countries like Abu Dhabi in terms of large-scale investment in renewable energy and the harvesting of sunlight, biomass and wind for energy,” says Seeger who in 2008/9 spent a year overseas investigating a wide range of renewable energy projects.

“In Abu Dhabi, for example, the leaders of this oil-rich nation are allocating revenues from the oil business to establish a prototype renewable energy city called Masdar City, which I have visited. It which will be up and running by 2020 and it will house 40 000 people.

Using the most advanced renewable energy technology in the world they are harnessing wind, sun and geothermal energy to provide energy and natural air-cooling for this sustainably built city. Locally available natural clays are being used for bricks, there will be no skyscrapers, which are highly energy inefficient, and they will have electric motor cars and underground substations, all solar-powered.

Why is this oil rich nation doing this? “Because they are well aware the oil resources are finite and not sustainable and they recognise the need to become world leaders in renewable energy, which is the future,” responds Seeger.

In November 2010 in collaboration with Wits University, Seeger hosted South Africa’s first 3-day implementation-focused renewable energy seminar called ‘Implementing Green Energy Projects in Southern Africa’.

Innovators from international renewable energy companies as well as sustainability professionals, such as architects who design off-grid houses, addressed the conference.

“The interest was enormous; to the extent that we are going to host another 2 seminars in 2011” says Seeger. The seminar attracted a wide range of attendants: entrepreneurs interested in breaking into the renewable energy sector, government officials, bankers, investors, academics and representatives from the United Nations in Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

“Many African countries do not use coal-based electricity as South Africa does, and they are looking at vast renewable energy projects,” he explains.

Renewable energy is the inevitable future and Wits is supporting this drive by providing Seeger with a site on campus where solar technology donated by Germany will be used to demonstrate how electricity is produced from the sun.

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