The installation of a 20 kW thin film solar photovoltaic (PV) plant at Camphill Village in the Western Cape, will make its dairy one of the first in South Africa to embrace renewable energy. The dairy, which provides employment for intellectually disabled adults, will use solar electricity for its production of organic milk, cheese and yoghurt products for retail.
The project was led by the Germany-based Rays of Hope Foundation, and included contributions from a number of industry leaders including BAE, Dehn, First Solar, Hanel Projects, Lahmeyer International, Leschaco, Q3, Schletter, Sieckmann Engineering, SMA Solar Technology, Solardura, Southern Sun Solar and UFE. Rays of Hope was established in 2007 by a group of German airline employees, keen to make a positive impact on communities and social groups that needed assistance in South Africa.
“The growing energy crisis in South Africa and ever-increasing electricity rates have had a profound impact on the operational costs that are involved in the running of an organisation such as Camphill Village,” Dr. Katrin Emmrich, co-founder and chairperson of the Rays of Hope Foundation, says. “This solar PV project was conceived with the objective of contributing to efforts to minimise Camphill’s carbon footprint, while also allowing the organisation to save money on electricity costs that can instead be invested in the community.”
Camphill Village is part of a worldwide movement that was started in Scotland in 1939 by Karl Konig, an Austrian paediatrician and educator, and several colleagues, inspired by the works of the philosopher and educator, Rudolf Steiner. The organization has had a presence in South Africa since 1952 and Camphill West Coast was founded in 1964.
“We anticipate that this plant will help us save approximately R1.44 million in electricity costs over the next 20 years which can be reinvested in caring for our people,” James Sleigh, managing director at Camphill Village says. “
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