Wind and Solar energy System Hybrid – Simon Mwacharo

Solar is the future of Africa: Simon Mwacharo gave a wonderful talk today at TED. His company is Craftskills.

He pointed out the challenges of getting power to rural areas, these being

  • Cost of transmission
  • Virtually no government acknowledgment and participation in encouraging renewable energy in the last few years.
  • Previous erroneous pairing of low rpm batteries with solar panels that resulted in a failed system. This made people skeptical of wind and solar systems for awhile.

For example, it takes about Ksh 100 for a rural person to go to a place that has power in order to charge their cellphone. This need not be the case at all, because battery charging stations can be set up in close proximity to most people in rural areas. His company has set up systems in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Cameroon and in the near future ivory coast. (White African asked the question about which countries his companies have been working in).

He had a powerful graph showing how 85% of Kenya (africa?) is not connected to the grid. The striking thing about Mr. Mwacharo’s company is the use of locally available materials and labor to create the systems. The inverters are made at a local university, the wiring and set up of the systems is done in his backyard. The fiberglass is locally cast though he imports the solar panels and magnets from China. His is a company that completely localizes renewable energy to provide power in a simple yet elegant way. Use of wind, complemented by solar and higher efficiency LED lights make this a very nimble system for off grid power provision.

During the q and a session, A gentleman asked a question whether netmetering is possible such that a hygrid (Grid tied solar sys) is possible, where excess energy generate by the homes can be sold back to the power company. Mwacharo answered by pointing out that the systems his company has deployed so far are not necessarily grid tied at this time, they are still off grid and not integrated.

I think that Mr. Mwacharo’s talk is very important for Africa, because it exemplifies that solutions to the ‘dark continent’ lie in the backyard of Africa’s homes and the universities in Africa. Bridging the ‘lighting gap’ is possible without continuing reliance on fossil fuels but with african ingenuity such as what he has shown us today.

Note that Yidris Mohammed has pointed out the the next big opportunity in Africa is the generation of power. Can we as Africans be so bold as to aspire for a grid tied system that can light up our continent in a clean, efficient and economically enhancing way? I firmly and resolutely believe so. It makes sense, and yes, Africa deserves to be brilliant. Not just light, but brilliant.
Thank you Mr. Mwacharo! For writing the first chapter in the energy transformation of Africa.

11 thoughts on “Wind and Solar energy System Hybrid – Simon Mwacharo

  1. i came across this company many months ago sent an email coz i want to setup a system for my folks back home. lakini i havent got a reply yet. – africans sure do talk a good game though. i met mad CEO’sat conferences mazee the y till u wonderful things about africa but you get down to doing buisness its the same old same old.

    But for real the email story is true and i was very very disappointed coz i was so excited to come across the company

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  3. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Africa: solar is the future of Africa

  4. @guest, you can email simon at craftskills dot biz, i am sure he would be happy to hear from you. I hope that helps. Thanks.

    Ndesanjo, thanks, it was wonderful meeting you too! Tanzania is just wonderful, cant wait to go back.

  5. Well this is afripreneurship at it’s best.. don’t know where i saw the word before. Hopefully like guest said it is not just good game but this guy can get it done. Africans with African solutions. This are the type of Africans who are given loans by the west to help solve the African issues but they are overlooked… i wish there was a way you guys would help this guy…. some provide a better interface to the world… someone else sell it to Kenyans… someone else squeeze your local MPs… u know what to get CDF money sent this guys way to provide power to the constituents and in the long run every one will benefit

  6. Thanks guys for the good comments. We are situated in Kibera slums Nairobi and are looking for a chance to give Africa her pride. Funds will come in handy to place us on an industrial scenario where we can produce these turbines at a lower cost and benefit wananchi.

    Simo

  7. Dear Sir or Madam:
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    I feel so full of pride introducing our conglomerateâ??Alpine Group, incorporated in Englandâ??engaged in diverse activities ranging from estate development, multimedia, television broadcasting, education, landscaping and international business. Alpine (Pakistan)â??a vibrant component Alpine Group is currently engaged in several projects at Gawadarâ??a port city being developed by Pakistan in strategic partnership with China.

    We have been asked to bid for some Solar energy projects wrapping up roads, public parks and shopping malls. It is in this context that I am writing to you and hence solicit for necessary literature supported by detailed specs, pictures and corresponding prices in US dollars based on CIF Karachi Sea Port. Kindly send us relevant literature, print material and other details at following address:

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    For we have to meet the need on urgent basis, your quickest reply shall be very helpful.

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    Imran Javaid
    Manager (International Business)

  8. Dear sir
    We are leading manufacturer of crystalline solar panel and applications.our product includes CIS solar panel,crystalline solar panel, foldable solar panel,solar street light, solar garden light,solar charger ect. Now we also offer the CIS solar panel,those kind solar panel are quite suitable for the African market for hight quality and competitive prices,therefore,we are looking for partner to cooperate to develop this huge potential and promising market.
    Here is brief introduct of CIS solar module:
    CIS is a new version thin-film solar cell with 6 advantages in application
    ·A cost-effective solution based on the thin-film technology
    ·Never affected by silicon shortage
    ·It is environment friendly product without the elements of Pb and Cd
    ·No degradation and 12% Hi-efficiency. Its performance is better than Amorphous Si.
    ·It ensures maximum power output under the shadow and adverse weather conditions.
    ·Wide-broad of spectrum comparing with crystalline cell

    If you want to know more about it and interest in it,please don’t hesitate to contact us at: smikosolar@gmail.com or joeruan@smiko.com

    Looking forward to hearing from you!!!

  9. If you guys have a good distribution email list of supporters in the Metro Atlanta U.S. area I would be happy to help with fundraising by offering our Community Fundraising Books and allocating the proceeds to your organization to help fund your projects.

    It would be great to see an independent society operating with wind and solar power as a sustainable energy source.

    Chris Manning, CEO
    Community Fundraising Books
    http://www.CommunityFundraisingBooks.com

    You make a living by what you make; you make a life by what you give…

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