UMI ED: Changing the Dominant Narrative Around the Current Energy System in South Africa

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The UMI ED project is key in enabling communities to change the dominant narrative around the current energy system and to give them the opportunity to voice their energy needs and map out the solutions they desire for their communities. With the clean energy transition well underway, technologies like rooftop solar PV mean that energy can be generated within our local communities. Communities can now meaningfully directly engage with the government towards making this transition just.

The UMI Energy Democracy project is the first of its kind in South Africa and is conducted in a partnership with leading community-based and non-governmental organizations, namely SDCEA (South Durban Community Environmental Alliance), Vukani Environmental Movement (VEM), Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM), Sustainable Energy Africa (SEA). The project aims to empower communities to engage effectively in the Just Transition process with key stakeholders, and to access clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy through pursuing community-led socially owned renewable energy solutions.

Renewable experts “Energy Capital Solutions” have  installed the first rooftop solar PV system at the SDCEA  office in Austerville. The  system will serve as a demonstration unit for the community to see, learn and get a better understanding of how electricity is generated from the sun (solar energy).  The community will have full access to the demonstration unit as it is a learning tool of how clean energy works. From this solar PV system, people will get to witness first-hand the benefits of renewable energy.

The installation of the rooftop solar PV system will be complemented by a training workshop and  will focus on an in-depth explanation of the solar PV system (the solar panels, the inverters and the battery), the system’s capacity (what it can power such as, phone chargers, laptops etc.), as well as the concept of a grid-tied system versus an off-grid system. The workshop will also cover aspects of maintenance and how the system operates. Above all, the information shared at the workshop will be conveyed in a simple and easy to understand format and translated to IsiZulu.

Author: Bryan Groenendaal


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