CAPE TOWN, Western Cape Province is leading South Africa's green energy revolution through a combination of water and power-saving initiatives, says its Premier, Helen Zille.

Speaking when she unveiled solar panels used at government buildings to save energy at a ceremony here Thursday, Zille said the provincial authorities had been able to save half-a-million-rand (about 37,000 US dollars) in electricity costs each year by investing in the panels.

So we generate our own electricity to the value of 500,000 Rand which is of course a direct saving to the tax-payer because otherwise we would have used tax rand to pay for coal-fired electricity. What this means ultimately is that if we are using renewable sources we can cut down the costs of these vital resources such as electricity and hopefully water; maybe one day very substantially, said Zille.

The provincial government aims to roll out solar panels and electricity-saving measures to all government facilities in future, said the Chief Director for Infrastructure in the provincial Public Works Department, Andrea Campbell. "We are currently working on three further ones which is the new green building - the new office building in Bellville as well as the Khayelitsha Shared Services Centre," added Campbell

Meanwhile, Deputy Tourism Minister Elizabeth Thabete unveiled a 25-million Rand solar panel project on Robben Island, a National Heritage Site. The initiative will reduce the island's reliance on diesel power by 40 per cent, which is expected to results in savings of more than four million Rand annually.

Extreme care was taken during the construction phase of the project not to affect the environment due to the sensitive ecological and heritage value of the island which lies some seven kilometres of the coast of Cape Town.


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