SOURCE: Diario El Centro / Journalist: María Isabel Triviño / March 10, 2017
A project promoted by Palo Alto winery consisted on the installation of solar panels that generate energy for the operation of heat pumps, which will put an end to cold showers at the Santa Laura School and will reduce their electricity expenditure to zero.
PENCAHUE.- To substantially improve the quality of life of students, teachers and staff of the Santa Laura school in Lo Figueroa, and reduce to zero the institution’s expenditure in electricity. Those were two of the main achievements of this school community as a result of the renewable energy project promoted by Palo Alto winery –a Concha y Toro subsidiary-, which was inaugurated yesterday in this commune.
The initiative was praised by Luis Amigo, the school’s principal, which has 197 students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, 20% of whom are directly related to Palo Alto employees, who owns vineyards in the communes of San Javier, Cauquenes, San Clemente and Pencahue. “Many of these children’s parents are operators or work in the vineyards,” said the teacher.
He added that the school “has been blessed, because thanks to this project our energy expenditure reduces to zero, which will mean a saving for the municipality. In addition, we have three water heaters that will provide hot water for the showers of children and staff.”
Amigo also stressed that this has been “life changing, with clean, healthy and silent energy, which has become a dream come true, as the project has only brought benefits to this community.”
PROGRESS FOR ALL
Regarding the company’s motivations to promote initiatives like this, Alfonso Larraín, president of Viña Concha y Toro, said: “It is our social concern that moves us, because the company cares about its people, their families, and many of the students here are the children of our employees.”
He added that “the better the conditions for the children, the better their education and future will be. I think all these are measures of progress, which we want all to be able to reach.”
Martín Cuthbert, Marketing Assistant Manager of Quinta de Maipo, wine group to which Palo Alto winery belongs, commented that “the project developed at Santa Laura School is in line with one of the fundamental pillars of this company, which relates to sustainability, covering “from the vineyards in the fields, to the supplies they use and social actions like this.”
The executive stressed that “in addition to the hot water in the school dressing rooms, this initiative generates economic savings, and part of the solar energy that will be used for lighting the school, all at zero cost.”
Maicol Castillo, a fifth grader, said that “after gym class we did not shower, because there was only cold water, and we just changed our t-shirt.”
Magdalena Barría, a seventh grade student, added: “Before it was very uncomfortable not to be able to shower after physical education class, because we felt dirty.”
Parent and assistant for minor services at the school Rosa Araya has a similar opinion. She said that her daughter, a second grader, was very excited and “even wanted to bring her bathing suit and a towel today (yesterday), because the teacher had told them they could shower here.”
Valeria Bustamante, mother and educational assistant, said her son is in fourth grade and that “here they are good at playing soccer, they sweat and before they could only wash and change their t-shirt. Now, they will bring their toiletries and shower with hot water,” she said.
Carlos Fuentealba, engineer of the project executed by the renewable energy company Tesla, explained that the school was constantly cut off from the electricity supply and did not have hot water. Then, Palo Alto winery asked for a technological solution.
“We proposed a system of electric heat pumps that accumulate 900 liters of water and heat water with electricity. But to avoid increasing the electricity expenditure, we suggested the installation of solar panels on the roof that generate 5 Kilowatts. These provide all the electrical energy used by the pumps and the surplus is distributed in all other consumptions that the school has, allowing the institution to be self-sustained in terms of energy,” he explained.