ENERGYACCESS Enel's Solar School in South Africa

Published on Monday, 14 September 2015

School started again in July, with only one subject on the teaching agenda: solar energy. Featuring Enel Green Power's Academy in South Africa The Guardian has published the article "Moment in the sun: why home solar panels could get big in South Africa". The first cities to be involved in this initiative are Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban. Now in their second year, the courses mainly involve young high school graduate first time job seekers.

The training path proposed by EGP teaches how to install solar PV panels, how to become sellers to domestic customers and to open small sector businesses for the retail market. The school, which offers a five-year plan, opened its doors in June 2014 offering free and intensive courses, a  simple idea that features an innovative training opportunity combining business and social development.

In the country where EGP has taken root, with the commissioning of its first solar PV plant in May 2014 the securing of an additional 938MW of solar and wind power in a series of supply contract tender contests, a gradual decline of technical and handicraft jobs and skills has been witnessed for some time now. These courses, which take place in partnership with the Master Artisan Academy South Africa, aim a training local specialist manpower, also capable of assessing the development potential of the presently practically non-existent domestic PV market.

Solar power in South Africa is undergoing speedy growth, connected with the country's policy aiming at increasing the renewable share in its energy mix, which is too dependent on traditional sources and has therefore become inadequate to meet domestic needs.  Large plants have started to be built and are becoming operational by virtue of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme launched by the South African government; but -The Guardian points out - solar power will hugely increase its social impact with the spread of small PV panels and modules for self-consumption. In fact, the domestic use of solar power will help fill the energy divide that still sees 14 percent of South Africa's population lacking access to electricity.

Combining supply and demand is the basic formula of the job market, just like for any commercial activity anywhere, but when this universal principle is interpreted by a company that has based its business model on the mission of creating shared value, this rule becomes something  more than a mere market mechanism. In fact, with the Academy EGP pursues its objective of supporting the social and economic development of communities that live in countries where it operates, training specialist manpower locally and helping to spread renewables to grant access to clean energy to the entire population.