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School’s winds of change
14 March 2011
Guy Rogers

A HUMBLE little Port Elizabeth school claimed a momentous first yesterday with the installation of a wind turbine and a linked borehole on their grounds. The 12m turbine has been established at Settlers’ Park Primary School in Walmer, and the power it generates drives a pump that draws water from an adjacent borehole.

This is the first time in the Eastern Cape that such a project has been established at a school, co-ordinators at the launch function at the school said.

The journey to the “fantastic reality” unveiled to council, business, environmental and community members and the excited Settlers staff and pupils began last year with a “vision” that came to local resident Elizabeth Dugmore.

Dugmore had just seen the eco-film Cuba: the Power of Community screened by Port Elizabeth’s climate change activist group Transition Network, and had come away thinking, “what can I do to help?” she told The Herald.

“I concluded I must focus on water. I thought, why not start with this school? I went across and sat down with the headmaster and told him, ‘I want to start a water revolution’.”

Settlers’ headmaster Andre Schlemmer listened to her and explained the schools’ water needs.

For weeks later Dugmore, with the help of several others, raised enough money to buy four 10000l rain water tanks to couple to the borehole that had recently been drilled.

The school then focused on further reducing both costs and their “carbon footprint” – particularly their reliance on Eskom’s electricity supply from coal-fired plants, identified as key drivers of climate change because of heavy CO2 emissions.

A renewable energy company Vayu Wind and PE turbine manufacturer Eveready-Kestrel were brought on board and in December last year the 12m turbine together with associated cabling, a battery for storing electricity and a pump to get the water out the borehole, were installed.

Today the turbine is used every day to drive the pump to deliver water first into the tanks and then to irrigate the rugby field and gardens, Schlemmer explained.

Any excess water is sold on the open market, bringing the school much needed funds.

Established in 1906, the original school, which became Settlers, today gets most of its pupils from Walmer Township and Central. The fees paid by the mostly cash-strapped parents are not enough to meet the school’s needs, he said.

“To do what we want to do is sometimes a problem and this distracts  from being able to focus just on teaching.

“This is why we treasure our community and in this case the efforts of Mrs Dugmore and the companies that joined this project to help us.

“With the right attitude, teamwork and taking small steps, you can achieve wonders.”

In an unusual part of the ceremony, the the school’s senior choir sang a special song for the occasion composed by music staff thanking God “for the wind that blows/ that draws the water from the ground”.

Vayu co-director Vijay Mitha, who was “in IT”, before he saw the need in the renewable sector, said the school had become a leader.

“By switching on the wind turbine, Settlers is helping to educate the next generation about climate change while setting an excellent example to other schools, businesses and homes.

“The turbine will also reduce the school’s carbon footprint, save money on electricity bills and help inspire pupils about environmental issues and renewable energy.”

He told The Herald that because of its unobtrusiveness and portability, the turbine is ideal to install at schools or in communities to link to various needs which otherwise require electricity from the grid.

Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber CEO Kevin Hustler said South Africa and the Eastern Cape had the potential to become a “wind powerhouse”.

“As a business chamber, we call on government to create frameworks to encourage more projects like this.”

The Settlers turbine was officially named Super Turby after the results of a fun competition for the pupils to find the best moniker were announced. Grade 6 pupil Allan Kimani, 12, was the winner.


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Your Views

alcan 16 January 2012 12:24 pm

Since when do you need a permit for Shark fishing? I have a annual fishing permit but restricted as to where i fish,no sight of areas allowed yet could anyone enlighten me as to where i can fish in th…

dokhotelo 16 January 2012 10:43 am

It seems “frolicking” is becoming more popular at the beaches………

dokhotelo 16 January 2012 10:40 am

News24 from yesterday: “”Councillors want protest insurance Johannesburg – The country’s 10 055 councillors want insurance at government’s expense to cover themselves and their properties against…

dokhotelo 16 January 2012 10:33 am

…Was the vehicle roadworthy?………

Sherry 16 January 2012 9:17 am

Hope the constable and his partner (dog) are both doing better. That this had to happen on a Friday that also happens to be the 13th is weird . …

VernE 13 January 2012 6:36 pm

And that’s just the consultation fees alone! So what do we have to show for all that’s been pumped into this project? Might as well have used those notes for landfill….

dokhotelo 13 January 2012 2:33 pm

…..Where is the local ANCYL branch?….Is there any money to be made out of whatever for them???…………

The Struggle 13 January 2012 2:06 pm

Where is the ANCYL Nelson Mandela Region? The youth needs to be empowered and your silence is deafening….

alcan 13 January 2012 4:42 am

Well said Wayward! The whole setup is a disaster,and now in Summer when energy consumption should be at it`s lowest the circus wants savings,what`s Winter going to be like! Any way who are the biggest…

Wayward 12 January 2012 11:13 pm

What Eskom needs is a 50% increase in maintenance, productivity and common sense. And a 50% decrease in the fat cats’ salaries. And a good smack round the ears….