An Australian-based charitable organisation, Its Time Foundation, has started a programme in Fiji to overcome the problems created by the diesel generators commonly used to provide electricity for island schools.
Its Time Foundation is identifying schools in the remote islands that depend on generators and then replacing their power needs with a renewable alternative.
solar panels are placed to take advantage of the available sunlight and recharge banks of storage batteries which provide electricity to the school.
It is being partnered locally by Nigel Skeggs, and his Port Denarau Marina.
“Its Time Foundation is most grateful for the developing association with Port Denarau Marina which is taking a lead position in the projects in Fiji,” Rob Edwards, Its Time Foundation founder, said.
“The marina is shaping as a great supporter of both kids in Fiji and the environment- including major support on their website and within the marina itself.”
Mr Skeggs, managing director of the Port Denarau Marina, is very excited about this partnership.
“We are working very closely with Rob Edwards to ensure that the children of Fiji get a great start to life through education as well as having a better understanding of the environment in which they live.
“The marina is very proud of its association and looks forward to assisting in the implementation of many projects in the future”.
In Fiji, as in most South Pacific countries, the children on the more remote islands suffer in their education because of the need to use diesel generators to provide electricity for the school.
The diesel generator system is generally unreliable and over time it becomes more so. The cost of maintenance is high and because of the remoteness of the location is generally difficult to arrange on a regular basis.
Diesel fuel has to be shipped in to the island and it is expensive, often accounting for over 20 per cent of the schools resources costs, which have to be paid by the school board or the teachers (so they can have power in the evening).
For example, in cash terms Rabi Island High School is diverting approximately $7000 a year from fuel purchases to education resources. To save money and hold the fuel costs to a manageable level, the generator is often switched off for long periods during the day, and for most of the night.
This makes out-of-school hours study very difficult for some schools.
Diesel generators also contribute a significant volume of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) to the atmosphere, adding to the greenhouse gasses that cause climate change.
The average generator produces 2.45 kilograms of carbon dioxide for every litre of fuel used.
WHY SOLAR IS WAY TO HELP
Electricity can be used continually throughout the day and there is a good supply for use during the hours of darkness.
And electricity from the solar panels can be generated seven days a week year round at no additional cost.
Solar panels cost nothing to run so they create additional funds for decades that can be spent on the children’s education, and each solar system that is installed saves many tonnes of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere.
The cost of each solar system varies considerably depending on the size and needs of each school.
The foundation is committed to “future proofing” the installations by using premium equipment and building systems that substantially exceed the school’s current needs, hence meeting the school’s increasing needs for electronic learning equipment.
Computer and other electronic equipment are integral to our children’s future education and these systems cater for those growing needs.
HOW IT WORKS
The Foundation is supported and financed by donations from many people outside the Pacific who are philanthropic and environmentally concerned.
The Foundation has as its purpose the improvement of educational outcomes for Pacific Island children and the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions in the region.
In Fiji the initial trial installation is already in place on Rabi Island and surveys are being carried out in the Mamanuca and Yasawa island groups.
Alan Hedstrom, the Principal of Rabi High School, says: “We cannot express how thankful we are for the kind donation of a solar system for the students of Rabi High School. The benefits for our school are both enormous and enduring.”