Four years after SolarWorld Africa installed Sun-TVs in 37 Southern African communities to enjoy the 2010 Soccer World Cup, the Sun-TVs are still in use for the Brazil 2014 games as a result of the ongoing maintenance by SolarWorld and the communities great appreciation of this gift.
Says Gregor Küpper, Managing Director of SolarWorld Africa: “We introduced the SolarWorld Sun-TV in communities where there is no electricity supply, to enable the community to watch the Soccer World Cup games and receive educational courses to enhance the youth’s knowledge of the world.”
The Sun-TV station comprises of a 42inch television set with DVD player and satellite receiver, powered by two 260Ah batteries and an inverter. These batteries are charged by 300 watts of SolarWorld solar modules, and monitored by a charge controller – all built into the cabinet.
While the idea was born in Germany during the 2006 Soccer World Cup, SolarWorld has developed it specifically for the local South African conditions. South African installation service provider, Telecom Techniques Solar worked closely with SolarWorld designing the Sun-TV units which was not only able to withstand weather, but it also consisted of a theft- and vandalism-safe design. Together with SolarWorld, they also rolled out 13 of the Sun-TV projects.
Gregor Küpper explains: “We completed the test installation in 2007 at ‘Etwatwa’ near Johannesburg. After fine-tuning the design of the Sun-TV unit based on our experience, thereafter, during 2009 and 2010, we rolled out all installations before the Soccer World Cup in South Africa commenced. It is fantastic to see how it is still being used in communities today.”
According to David Martin, Founder of Bulungula Lodge and Co-founder of the non-profit organisation, Bulungula Incubator: “There are only two televisions in the community. For 90% of the village, the Sun-TV is the only way to see the outside world.”
Inspired by this project, David Martin continues: “It is amazing. During the Soccer World Cup 2010 and now, four years later during the Soccer World Cup 2014 we got the opportunity to be part of it; otherwise everyone would have missed it. All the kids from the lodge would gather and watch the Soccer World Cup together.”
Andre Friend of Telecom Techniques Solar explains: “The Sun-TV project has been one of the most rewarding and fulfilling projects of my career… To see the faces light up when you switch on the TV.”
The benefits of the Sun-TV vary according to the needs of each community, and the main advantages can be summed up as access to education, increasing general knowledge, and to assist the development of the community’s health and environment.
According to Gert Potgieter, Altus Sport Director, who co-ordinated the Kliptown installation: “I see the Sun-TV as very positive as people do not depend on electricity to use it.”
Leán Terblanche, Managing Director at the Grootbos Foundation who co-ordinated the installation in Gansbaai says: “We use the Sun-TV to offer educational lessons to children, youth and adults from three different communities in the area. This is a ‘point’ where the children can gather and have access to education and television in a safe environment.”
Over the last four years, the Sun-TVs were maintained by SolarWorld in accordance with its commitment to sustainability.
Gregor Küpper advises: “Not only are the Sun-TVs environmental friendly, they are also building social capital and bridging the technology divide between different worlds. This project seeks to provide communities with a form of access to media technology that provides a window into unknown worlds.”
There have been many inspiring and personal success stories for all who have been involved in the installation of the SolarWorld Sun-TV systems – from the installers to the community co-ordinators – all the way from sunny Gansbaai to bustling Kliptown. The Sun-TVs play a pivotal role in educating the youth.
“Our commitment to sustainability begins on the inside. It starts with how we manufacture our products, choose our materials and treat our employees, then it extends outward to the communities we serve. Our commitment encompasses both economic and social sustainability and includes our factories, suppliers and employees. It is part of our identity and clearly differentiates SolarWorld from the rest of the solar manufacturing industry,” summarises Gregor Küpper.
Today, there are 34 Sun-TV units in operation across South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Lesotho – enabling the training of school children and adults, watching sports events, daily news, weather, election results, movies, gospel events and also soap operas.
“We have achieved our goal of promoting a sustainability approach, with a common spirit and using the media to focus on education, social integration and environmental awareness,” concludes Küpper.