The University of the Western Cape is no stranger to greening – it has thrice been crowned Africa’s Greenest Campus, and is the only South African University to be named among the top 200 universities in the world in the recent Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings, measuring higher education’s commitment and contributions to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Here are three ways UWC is leading the green revolution:
- Powering The Revolution – The Hydrogen Future: See that fleet of golf carts zipping around campus? They’re powered by hydrogen fuel cell technology (HFCT) courtesy of Hydrogen Systems – noiseless, effective and pollution-free – the only emission is water. HySA has also been responsible for many other HFCT breakthroughs in South Africa: the first hydrogen-powered tricycle, first fuel cell backup power systems prototype for the telecommunications market, and the first loadshedding-beating hydrogen fuel cell generator for the UWC Nature Reserve.
- Revolutionary Communications: The Solar-Powered ISP: Data must fall, as the saying goes – especially in rural South Africa where infrastructure is scarce and mobile networks can be prohibitively expensive. The Zenzeleni mesh network – a joint project between UWC’s Bridging Applications Network Group (BANG) and the community of rural Mankosi – enables connectivity through low-cost internet and voice calls in rural areas. The network covers 30km2 and is made up of a dozen routers running open-source firmware and software. The entire system is powered by solar panels installed on the roofs of the host homes.
- Revolutionary Deeds: Waste Not, Want Not: The University has committed itself to the recently-launched Green Good Deeds programme – which promotes sustainable waste management practices (such as recycling) – and to galvanising society at large to change their behaviour around waste, pollution and the environment. UWC is also leading efforts to deal with the direct consequences of waste. Professor Leslie Petrik of UWC’s Department of Chemistry is leading research to prove that fly ash, the residue from burning coal at power stations, can provide a cost-effective alternative to cement.