Premier Zille Launches Solar Energy System in Carbon-Neutral Garment Manufacturer
On Tuesday, 22 May, Premier Helen Zille launched the recently installed solar energy system of the Impahla Clothing textile factory in Maitland as part of the Western Cape Government's championing of renewable, especially solar, energy to promote a more sustainable future in the province.
Impahla Clothing became the first carbon-neutral garment manufacturer in South Africa through implementing carbon off-setting projects (including tree-planting in Khayelitsha) and the company's installation of a solar-powered electricity generation system, funded by the IDC, marks a significant boost to the factory's drive towards energy security and self-sufficiency.
"It was really amazing to see the banks and banks of solar panels on the roof that generate up to 30% of the electricity for the factory. This helps to conserve our environment and to prevent global warming by reducing the need to burn fossil fuels. It's great to see that while some have been talking about moving more and more to green energy, others are already doing it," Premier Zille said in a keynote address to the factory staff at a plaque-unveiling ceremony.
She highlighted the Western Cape Government's goal to have at least 10% of electricity usage in the province to come from renewable energy sources by 2014, saying that this would require making it easier for households and businesses to generate electricity independently and to sell their surplus supply to the grid through a feed-in tariff (FIT) scheme. She said that while the solar energy system installed by the factory might still be an uncommon thing, in ten to 20 years' time it must be routine to have integrated renewable energy systems in all buildings and facilities. As an example, she pointed to the Khayelitsha District Hospital as a thoroughly "green building" with its own solar photovoltaic system and a two-kiloWatt wind turbine.
Premier Zille concluded, "This factory is at the forefront of making South Africa a sustainable country with sustainable enterprise. You've taken the crucial step of shifting more and more to solar power and thus moving green energy from the marginal to the mainstream."
Photos by Zak Mbhele.