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special projects

Transforming lives with solar

Our special projects team has worked all over the world to design, build and deploy off grid solar power systems for villagers in remote settlements, communities in developing countries and homeless families in disaster zones.

The power of off-grid light and energy

Our experienced Special Projects team are dedicated and knowledgeable off grid solar experts who have worked all over the globe to provide power solutions for remote communities, developing countries and disaster zones.

Solar is safe, reliable power

Where a grid connection is not available and a diesel generator is too unreliable, noisy or expensive, a solar or a hybrid power plant could be the solution. With a whole system life time of well over 20 years, the capital expenditure can quickly be recouped which then means cost effective and reliable power is provided year after year.

Whether the generated electricity is being self-consumed, or sold to the end user using our unique pay as you go hardware, the client has full visibility of their investment through our data logging systems.

Custom-designed, cost-effective solutions

Our Special Projects team can provide a complete range of services from detailed system designs and bill of materials for self-builders right through to complete systems' build, on site deployment and long term operations and maintenance programmes.

For more information on how we could help you create an off-grid solar power system call our Special Projects team on 01684 774000 or email hello@solartechnology.co.uk 

Our solar systems change lives in Africa

Being able to see for ourselves how the systems we install can change lives is enormously rewarding. In Africa there are two projects that have transformed life and work in local communities in Kenya. One was the design, commissioning and installation of a solar power station on the island of Remba and the other is a solar lighting project in Marsabit County.

Delivering energy to a remote community

Remba Island, Lake Victoria in Kenya

Remba Island is situated in the north Kenyan sector of Lake Victoria, close to the Ugandan border. Its 60,000 plus inhabitants are mostly made up of fishermen, mothers, children, pirates and prostitutes. Unwanted pregnancies are high as is sexual assault, HIV and a host of other diseases.

For all that, the islanders are generally wealthy (by rural Kenyan standards) because of the sale of fish – mostly to Uganda. A number of surveys of the islanders showed a clear desire for electricity to power basic commodities such as lighting, TV, refrigeration, computers and mobile device charging. The survey also showed a clear willingness and ability of the inhabitants to pay for the electricity consumed.

Working in partnership

We worked with the lead contractor, EPGE Dream, based in Nairobi. The organisation had received some partial grant funding for the project but the vast majority of the funding was from the Dream’s own finances to use this installation as a case study showing banks and other lenders that such ventures can be self-funding and profitable even without NGO or aid money. In this case, the grant was given by World Health Organisation (WHO) who wanted to trial if providing light at night would achieve the following:

1. Reduce sexual assault
2. Reduce pregnancies
3. Increase the capability of children to learn after dark

As well as the WHO objectives there were other important issues that solar power could overcome. With the price of paraffin being more than most islanders could afford, many people relied upon kerosene to fuel their lighting. The fumes irritated the eyes and lungs of islanders and children would suffer burns from accidents with the lamps.

 

The dream for power becomes reality

Several companies had looked at the solar power project and said they couldn’t help but we believed there was a solution we could deliver. As a result, Solar Technology International was commissioned by Dream to design, build, deliver and deploy the solar system.

A key challenge was the logistics of getting the battery storage and circuitry to the remote island and be sure it would work once it was there with the facilities that would be available. To overcome this problem we built the power station in containers here in the UK so that we could test it as a complete unit before it was shipped to Kenya with the solar panels.

Monitoring from our UK headquarters

A team of three from Solar Technology worked with local contractors to install the solar power station and it was completed at the end of 2017 and has been now fully operational for almost three years. The system’s performance is monitored day by day by us at our UK headquarters by our on-site retained employee who keeps on top of the system with inspections and cleaning as required. The capacity of the system is now fully utilised and there is demand for a several more systems on the island.

Striking results

The results for the WHO have been striking. The availability of light and power has reduced sexual assault and pregnancies plus, the educational achievements of the children had markedly improved. Dream estimate that 24-hour renewable electricity leads to a 149% increase in studying time.

The solar power station has also had a transformative effect on healthcare facilities on the island as the health centre can now stay operational for 24 hours a day. Previously those requiring maternity care would be turned away after dark but now they can access the care they need all day, every day. 


The equipment to build the solar power station arrives at Remba by waterbus
The solar power station starts to take shape
Inside the building housing the electrics and the batteries to store the power
The view of the solar power station from Lake Victoria

Lighting up the roads in rural Kenya

Making roads safer after dark

Street lighting in rural Kenya is really important for communities as light after sunset enhances the quality life in a number of ways including:
• Making street and roads, plus the living environment, a safer place
• Providing the opportunity to continue economic activity after dusk
• Enabling an engagement in more (outdoor) social activities.
• Increasing a sense of well-being.

The legacy of solar powered lights

Solar-powered street lighting is a fairly well-established concept in remote areas of Africa (and the rest of the world) where it’s not commercially viable, or possible, to install equipment connected to mains electricity.

But early attempts were not always successful. For lighting where the solar panel is an integral part of the street light, dirt and dust from the roads soon covered the solar panel, which blocked out the sun light and eventually caused it to stop working.

The lights were also susceptible to vandalism.

LED is a game changer 

The solution we developed made the most of new LED lighting and involved creating a Powerbox to host the panels, the batteries and the other technical equipment in four sites by the side of the road to power 360 lights. This was then connected to the lights via cables. The solution immediately removed the problem of dusty panels that are difficult to access and clean.

Shining light on a thriving economy

Now residents report that life is much safer at night and the night-time economy is thriving. Resident Casgoli Huka sums up the feelings of many. He said: “With the street lighting people are able to walk with confidence knowing they are safe and you can see people working during the night so they are adding value to the 24-hour economy.”


We designed and tested the solar power stations in the UK before they were taken apart and shipped to Kenya
Building at pace on site
Installing the solar panels on the metal frame
The completed electrics and battery storage