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Solar project changes lives

The Petunia Secondary School in Heidedal, Bloemfontein, is now a hub of renewable energy.

This follows the launch of the first phase of a long-term solar initiative.

This life-changing project, known as Windmill Petunia Solar, was officially launched at the end of last year and will continue well into 2020.

The hope is that the school will benefit from the project by enabling it to save money and cut on its huge electricity bill.

The Sun Windmill Casino in Bloemfontein funded the implementation of the first phase.

Elmarie Fitzmaurice, spokesperson for Windmill, said this was its latest project made possible through its socio-economic development.

“We selected Petunia for a sustainable project to help the school save on electricity expenses, but it will also have an impact on the environment,” said Fitzmaurice.

“Once the school is able to save on its electricity bill, the money saved can be transferred to the feeding scheme, which fulfills a huge role at the school.”

The feeding scheme currently caters for 40 learners identified as being from impoverished households.

Regarding the potential environmental impacts associated with solar power, Fitzmaurice highlighted educational awareness of green energy and careers in technical skills transfer.

Other aspects include the use of hazardous materials in manufacturing, land and water use.

According to Fitzmaurice, the solar project is more sustainable than previous small projects undertaken to support the school.

The first phase was run over two months by Eco Trades Solar, a Bloemfontein-based company.

Fitzmaurice said the success of the first phase would pave the way for the second phase, which would make the school solar-powered.

“This will ultimately result in the school having no electricity bills. The school is faced with a number of challenges and we are trying to make life easier so that learners can focus solely on education.”

According to Maureen Milles, Petunia principal, the project is lifesaving.

“This will help us save money to supplement the feeding scheme, which is not sponsored,” said Milles.

“We are thinking of saving some of the money to revamp the sports fields.

“I’m delighted with the casino’s support of this project, as this will help to positively change many learners’ lives and enable them to have a better future.”

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