The upgrading of hot water supplies to two bungalows at a South African National Defence Force (SANDF) base in Limpopo will add multiple, habitable residences to its property portfolio. The project is being overseen by the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) and is partially supported by the Solar Thermal Demonstration and Training Initiative (SOLTRAIN), which is funded by the Austrian Development Agency and co-funded by the Opec Fund for International Development.
The solar water heating (SWH) systems will reduce the use of electricity and/or backup diesel, where these bungalows have defunct hot water geysers, and enable the Defence Force to offer housing with functional hot water supplies for its members. A small-scale pumped system pilot project will entail the construction and operationalisation of two 1 500 litre SWH systems to provide hot water to two accommodation bungalows used to accommodate military medic members, approximately half of which are female.
“This project is not only about the installation of renewably heated hot water, but also about the training of plumbers and artisans to such install solar water heating systems”, explains Dr Karen Surridge, manager of RECORD (Renewable Energy Centre of Research and Development) at SANEDI. “This is the first of several collaborative projects taking place between SANEDI and the DoD, after the signing of a 5-year Memorandum of Agreement mid-2018. This project is partially supported through SOLTRAIN funding and being managed and implemented by SANEDI, thus cementing the interaction of SANEDI, the DoD and SOLTRAIN in the upcoming SOLTRAIN phase IV, commencing July 2019.
“We have made several exploratory trips to several different sized military installations 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.
“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, as well as contributing towards reduced energy costs and reliable water heating energy security.
“In order to prepare members for the upcoming projects, RECORD created awareness about renewable energy, energy efficiency and, more specifically, SWH and biogas at military units across Limpopo through half-day awareness training seminars, including basic understanding of energy as a whole, how SWH and biogas work and how these cleaner technologies can make a difference.
“We will train four DoD members to maintain this system and they will shadow the contractor during installation and maintenance of the SWHS. Additionally, in January 2019, we already trained 25 DoD multi-skilled artisan members through the SOLTRAIN accredited and assessed (exam) Thermosyphon SWH theory course delivered by SANEDI in partnership with the University of Stellenbosch.
“Given the number of government and parastatal entities that own housing, we are confident that this model of co-funding and support could be replicated to materially assist them in refurbishing viable properties,” concludes Surridge.