Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Solar Power in Rwanda

After half a year of preparations, we have finally arrived in Rwanda.  We brought with us 95 solar panels, 45 controllers, cables, connectors, screws, nuts, drills, screwdrivers, and a lot more equipment.  

After arriving in Kigali, we bought 45 solar batteries, batteries that are specially designed for solar electric (photo-voltaic) systems.  We also bought many meters of plastic pipes for building the frames.  

Today 20 of our students start teaching 20 local youths to build these solar power systems.  The electricity generated from the solar panels is fed into a controller, which directs the electricity either to the battery for storage, or to a number of outlets to power LED lights, charge mobile phones, etc.  

Amazingly, they were able to assemble a working system before lunch.  The local youths are very enthusiastic.  Our students are eager.  Together they did us proud.  The plan is to use 3 days to assemble the 45 systems and to train the local youths to assemble and maintain the systems.  

In the following 4 days, the team will be going into 3 villages to install 45 systems for 45 households.  It is a sizeable engineering project.  Let us see how it will pan out.  If everything works out, there will be 45 households who will now have electricity for the first time.  There will be 20 local youths from these villages who can maintain these systems, to keep them working.  These 20 local youths have mostly graduated from secondary school who are now looking for jobs.  Hopefully the skills they acquire will be beneficial for them, as well as their own community.  


Cyiu Chau said...

This is awesome. I have a feeling that the next step would be wind generators. One can start by recycling those 8cm or 12cm PC fans from old computers, extract the motor and make new fan blades with plastic bottles (e.g. from shampoo containers) or wood sticks + tops of soft drink bottles.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting and rewarding I am sure, quite an eye opener for our students. Why would you still have to buy more solar panels there even though you had bought 95 of them from Hong Kong? How different are they?

Cyiu Chau said...

re Anonymous:

I think what they purchased in Kigali were not panels but batteries, as a mean to store the electric energy harvested by the panels.

Judging by the size I was guessing lead-acid batteries, the kind that is typically used in an automobile, but the name of the company and the application scenarios written on the package suggest the possibility of those being Na-NiCl2 batteries. I would imagine a complete setup should include 2 panels + 1 controller + 1 battery + miscellaneous DC appliances like LEDs and USB chargers.