The project for a carbon-neutral bakery evolved out of the embassy’s decision to equip an orphanage in Mamelodi with a professional bakery to cater for its own needs - and to sell the surplus to provide an income for the institution.
By harnessing the solar energy, the bakery could be carbon neutral and cost effective to run.
Swiss ambassador Helene Budliger Artieda said the SOS Children’s Village approached embassies years ago for assistance with a bakery. “At first we thought we would do a normal bakery inside a container. But after much consultation and deliberation, the most cost-effective and eco-friendly solution was a solar-powered bakery,” she said.
In building it, Eric Noir, founder of Abundance Foundation, architect, engineer and sustainability thought leader, opted for a thermal solar solution, which delivered energy cost-equivalent to two bakers' salaries just on the oven’s electricity consumption alone.
The bakery, which cost about R350000 to build, is made of aluminium, glass, wood, mirrors and insulation.
On a good day it takes the bakery about 40 minutes to bake 80 loaves of bread.
And on a not so great day it takes as long as two hours, under 100ºC, to make 80 loaves.
The SOS Village, located in the heart of Mamelodi West, takes care of 75 children between 3 and 18 years of age who are orphaned, abandoned or whose families are unable to care for them.
It gives these children the opportunity to build lasting relationships within a family unit environment.
It also runs family strengthening programmes and holiday programmes for children.
The programme director at SOS Children's Villages, Kgomotso Loate, said bread played a major role as part of the children’s staple diet.
“We are over the moon that we can now make our own bread.
“The children here are heavily dependent on bread, and some enjoy only one meal a day, which is from here.
"So the fact that we can make our own bread means we can feed more mouths efficiently in a cleaner way and at a lower cost,” said Loate.
Two pensioners from Mamelodi were selected by the orphanage to undergo baking training to produce the bread for the orphanage.
The surplus can also supply them and the institution with additional income.