Solar panels on homes in the settlement
(Image credit: !Kheis Municipality – PV Solar Panels video)

In many small, rural settlements in South Africa, residents live in metal shacks with no connections to the regional electricity grid. But now in one of these settlements, lights are shining.

“Each shack operates on a solar panel and a battery,” Lilia Abron says. She’s president of PEER consultants, an environmental engineering consulting firm, and of its sister company, PEER Africa.

For decades, she’s worked to bring energy-efficient housing to post-apartheid South Africa.

As part of a project in !Kheis municipality in the Northern Cape province, PEER Africa has helped equip more than 500 homes with independent electrical systems.

“The solar panel on the roof and the battery is enough to operate inside lights, outdoor lights, a refrigerator, color T.V., sewing machine,” she says.

Now children can read and study in the evenings by lamplight, and outdoor areas are well-lit, which helps to improve safety.

So Abron says that the benefits of renewable energy technologies go far beyond the climate.

“It’s about using science and technology … to transform the lives of people,” she says.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.