Two communities in rural Kenya have received a new model for clean, affordable and reliable solar energy, which allows them to switch on lights for the first time. And now the environmental enterprise behind the project is seeking to raise $30m to roll out the technology to around 1,500 communities in Kenya, South Africa and Mozambique in the next two years.
Villagers in Lemolo B and Echareria in Nakuru County, Kenya, will benefit from a solar nano-grid (SONG) system, which provides energy for both commercial and household applications using upcycled laptop batteries. The system comprises a small network and solar-hub with a direct current (DC) inverterless power output of 3-5kWP, operating independently from a utility grid.
Each grid supports a small independent community of around 60 households, giving energy to around 300 people. With the development of micro-enterprises, the community can realise collective benefits, save money to extend their solar nano-grid systems and increase their energy consumption cleanly and sustainably.
Designed by Intasave, the model was initially supported by $600,000 of research and development funds provided by the UK Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) and the Department for International Development (DFID). First installations, including those in Lemolo B and Echareria in Kenya, were subsidised from $100,000 raised through crowdfunding.
The installations are the start of a major solar nano-grid initiative (SONG) that ultimately aims to impact over 450,000 people.