Financing renewable energy

Busy researching different models for financing domestic renewable energy generation. The ultimate aim of the climate change demonstration shop and event etc is to get Kleinmond self-sufficient in energy. So I’m looking at the longer-term, top-down picture, too. Thinking about how to finance installing PV for householders and how the Municipality (kind of like the town council) could help achieve this vision. There are over 800 other municipalities in South Africa so if it happens in the town of Kleinmond there’s great scope for replication.

The Municipality actually buys electricity from the utility company and sells it on to householders (for a profit!). So while having a local council that makes energy decisions at the town level could be useful Kleinmond’s transition to solar PV, on the other hand I guess the Municipality may be reluctant to support initiatives that reduce energy consumption. There are some technical obstacles, too. Apparently it is impossible to fit 2-way meters and put energy into the grid here.

Open day

So we’ve been thinking more about how to demonstrate energy saving and generating devices at Mthimkhulu Village Centre. We’ve decided to try and hold an open day event at Mthimkhulu, where we could demonstrate climate change solutions large and small, from LED lightbulbs to solar PV and from water-saving taps to greywater recycling systems, plus have some entertainment to draw people in. So as well as the climate change ‘shop’ we can show off what’s already on-site, which is quite impressive: biodigester, bore-hole, rainwater butts, solar PV  & solar hot water. And it’s a big site! Check out the website at if you don’t believe me…

Development dumping

A little while ago the Grail Centre successfully lobbied the Municipality to install solar hot water and PV systems in new government  housing that was going up in Protea Dorp, the area of town where ‘coloured’ people live (yes there is still such an area even though it may not be official. It’s strange to read if you’re British, I know). Unfortunately whoever installed it neglected to leave any kind of instructions for how to use the systems, so the new residents are unable to understand or use their hot water and electricity properly. So today I’ve been trying to not just removing jargon from a technical manual, but actually compose a manual in the first place. And trust me, I’m no solar expert. There’s a name for this apparently – ‘development dumping’ . So-called improvements are just ‘dumped’ on people with little thought for how they’ll actually use it.

I went to one of the houses and, strangely, it seems that the hot water does not come out of the shower but out of a tap underneath it…I’m not sure why…

But on a sunnier note, check out this lovely video I found about using the sun’s energy elsewhere in South Africa to power a farm. It’s even called Transition.

Climate change shop

You can read more about the work I’ll be doing to help set up a climate change shop in Mthimkhulu Village Centre in Kleinmond, SA in an article posted on the Grail Centre’s homepage here

Learning to use solar power

On the drive out of Cape Town airport a sprawling patchwork of tin shacks lines the freeway for 20km. This is Khaletshiya, an informal settlement housing thousands of people.

 Even the small holiday town of Kleinmond, where the Grail Centre is located, has an informal settlement. Kleinmond is not cramped and winding like so many UK towns and villages: rather, it is made up of orderly grids of streets and avenues where the white people live. And then in an area a tiny fraction of the size, the shimmering tin roofs house the same number of African people as the neat squares of houses do white.

 One task I will be helping with next week is re-writing user manuals for solar panels, so that they can be understood by the people who will be moving into new government-built houses with solar hot water and/or PV. Many of the people who move into these houses will never have lived in a brick house before.

Transition in South Africa

Sorry it’s been so quiet on Inclusive Transition. The reason is that I’ve been busily preparing to go to South Africa and Namibia. We’re spending the first eight weeks at the Grail Centre, a community leadership training centre near Cape Town. We’ll be helping out with some of their activities around climate change. My reflections on tackling climate change and building resilience as it relates to this town will be the focus of Inclusive Transition for the next little while. I hope you’ll find it interesting to compare the challenges of transitioning a town in South Africa with those in Europe.

Shakespeare’s Residents Association

SRA invited TTSN to come and talk about what we’re doing at their meeting this week. It was good to see what they are already up to – thyey were very friendly and welcoming and they’ve got lots of projects on the go, including tree planting and other ‘green’ things. Hopefully we’ll be able to work together more in the future now that the link has been established.  They have a quarterly newsletter which they put through  letterboxes in the area and said they would be willing to include relevant TTSN news or events. That’d be a great way for us to reach people in that area, particularly those that aren’t online, which we always find challenging.