Solar school a test for engineers

02:04, May 19 2009
Switched on: members of Engerneers Without Borders, Greg Hart, front, Dane Hart, left, San Davies, Suzanna Remmerswaal and Stewart Hardie, Robert Cardwell, Russell Taylor, Luke Sinclair and Pat Bodger will travel to Tonga to install solar panals at a school.

Solar panels on a Tongan school will be the first test for Canterbury University's Engineers Without Borders group.

In July, eight former and current students will install a solar-energy system on the roof of Vava'u High School in Neiafu, Tonga - the group's first project since it was formed two years ago.

Team supervisor Professor Pat Bodger said schools in Tonga received an allocated amount of electricity each year, but it was not enough.

They had to go to the community for money to pay for the extra power or close the school, she said.

Student Sam Davies said the new system would provide 10 to 15 per cent of Vava'u High School's electricity. He said the Engineers Without Borders scheme was a chance for engineers to put their skills to use on issues such as sanitation, water supply and electricity that affected poor countries.

A year ago, the Canterbury group approached the university's EcoCARE Pacific Trust, which had been working with the Tongan Government, and together they came up with the idea of providing solar energy for a school.

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