projecteverest

Work Update

Basic solar set-up.

by
Darren D'Souza
Darren D'Souza | Jan 5, 2017 | in Knowledge Base

From the empathy research conducted by the December Fuel team in Fiji, it was noted that inland villagers had the following problems:

  1. Villagers needed electricity mainly at night times for their children to be able to study in light

  2. Since they were inland, they were not essentially part of the main electricity grid and as such it cost the Fiji Electricity Authority a fortune to be able to provide electricity access to them. Hence, they were forced to pay several extra fees for ‘call-outs’ and ‘reconnections’

  3. The post pay electricity system meant that they were required to pay a monthly surcharge of $4.85 even if they were not using any electricity for that month. Therefore, most of them have opted for the pre-pay system and as such keep electricity usage to a minimum.

 

The January Fuel team in Fiji is looking at visiting inland villages in the next week to be able to gather further insights into electricity issues as a means to reinforce the empathy research conducted by the December team with regards to electricity issues. However, prior to conducting further empathy, the January team has researched into solar power and the ability to harness solar power into converting it into electrical energy. Such a process is known as ‘tapping’ into solar power to capture, store and use it as electricity. This can be done using a basic solar energy system that comprises of:

 

  • Solar panel - contains a number of photovoltaic cells or modules that are wired together on a panel and are able to capture the sun’s energy

  • Charge regulator - acts as a controller to regulate the solar energy within the entire system. As such it prevents the solar panel from overcharging the battery and vice versa.

  • Battery - the battery is able to store the electricity that has been collected from the solar module and effectively distributes it to various outlets for use

  • Wiring cables - connect all parts of the solar energy system together

 

Advantages

  • Convenience

  • Environmentally friendly as no smoke, smell, fumes, etc.

  • Cost-effective

  • Can be used in isolated or remote areas provided there is access to sunlight

  • Sustainability

  • Minimal maintenance

 

Disadvantages

  • Operations are limited on cloudy days

  • Poor installation can be detrimental

  • High capital costs initially

 

After conducting research on such an option, the team was able to find that a few companies in Fiji sell products that are identical to such a solar energy system such as:

 

  1. Powerlite Limited (Fiji)

http://www.powerlite.com.fj/renewable-energy/

 

  1. Can-Am Solar Systems Limited

http://www.canadiansolar.com.fj/products.html

 

  1. Clay Energy

http://www.clayenergy.com.fj/our-products

 

We were also informed by Will that Envirofit, a US-Based company can act as a potential wholesaler and upon researching their website, we found a similar solar energy system that they manufacture

 

http://asia.envirofit.org/product/uncategorized/empower-core-5-watt-system/

 

We were also able to do some research into implementing such a system within villages and were able to come across a company called SCODE http://scode.co.ke/

 

Like Project Everest, SCODE is a social enterprise, however, the company is based in Kenya and one of their biggest initiatives was working with households and residents in the Bahati and Mbogoine divisions of the Nakuru village districts, in implementing an identical solar energy system (20 watt and 50 watt) in these villages, which was widely favoured by all villagers. Such an initiative proves that there is potential for Project Everest to venture in this direction with the possibility of achieving a similar success rate with the inland villagers of Fiji.

 

The team has agreed to incorporate electricity into our questions for when we empathise further with inland villagers so as to gain a better idea of their electricity usage in terms of what appliances they use on a daily basis that require electricity such as lights, fridge, washing machine, radio, television, etc.

 

Based on the empathy research we conduct, further research will be done into different voltages of the solar energy system such as whether a 5 watt, 20 watt or 45 watt system would be more beneficial and to whom (depending on electricity usage).

edited on 21st June 2017, 18:06 by William Ashford

Remi van der Stok Jan 5, 2017

The December Energy and Fuel team in Cambodia also looked into solar and its viability. I don't know what the current situation is in Fiji but we found that locals in Cambodia have big misconceptions with Solar. Many of the people we spoke to were unsatisfied with their solar panels because their little 'shitty' panels (most likely from China) didn't provide enough power for their entire house and the batteries didn't last long due to the humid conditions of Cambodia.
If the main power usage is at night, large batteries are going to be required to store the power made during the day. Definitely look into different sizes of solar panels and respective power output but also look into battery sizes, its lifetime and costs as batteries need more frequent replacement than the panels, hence increasing capital costs.
But i saying that, some locals were happy with it. The main problem is the large upfront payment. Some companies in Cambodia provided a long term payment plan but this becomes difficult in rural areas as the companies don't have the man-power, nor budget to send people out to collect money.
Something that could potentially work in Cambodia is acting as a middle man between the customer and the already established companies.
Don't let this discourage you, I definitely think there is potential in solar, I just felt like this needed to be said.

Reply 1

(Account removed) Jan 5, 2017

Hey Remi! Good to hear from Cambods. We are yet to visit an inland village that has these strong issues with electricity and solar so that's when we were going to see what their really strong issues were with them! So this is great to hear that that was the type of feedback there.
- How did you guys go about with looking into being the middleman between the customer and established companies? There's one established electricity company in Fiji for example, but they aren't really keen on giving out details about when they were moving say grid electricity to the rural inland villages found by December team's research.

Reply 0

Remi van der Stok Jan 9, 2017

Hey Danica, I got that idea from talking to Solar panel shops in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh as their biggest issue seemed to be the distribution of solar panels to rural households. However the general dissatisfaction from the locals, surrounding solar energy, discouraged my team to look further into this option. This would be a more viable solution if we're targeting those without any access to power, which we haven't had much chance to interact with as they are further out from Siem Reap.

Reply 1

View all replies (2)

William Ashford Jun 21, 2017

Status changed to TASK - Can you help?
Solar is a huge area of potential for Project Everest. We need developments of this idea and ideas of how we can bring it to market in a viable way for low income peoples.

Reply 0

Andrew Vild Sep 14, 2017

Status changed to Previous Work
Activity has died off on this thread and so we are working on slimming down ideas for the upcoming activity.

Reply 0

Share