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Schmidtsdrift – Solar Energy brings hope to a struggling community

In a remote corner in the Northern Cape near Kimberley, lies Schmidtsdrift – a land with many challenges and a former army barracks where ex-recruits from the earlier war against SWAPO were settled, after Namibia’s independence in 1990.

Improved governmental policies

Highlighting the plight of previously-disadvantaged communities, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development has developed a Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP) specifically to address the developmental backlogs and, in particular, the basic needs of all households in designated areas – such as Schmidtsdrift – which attained a strategic priority no. 3.

Challenges of Schmidtsdrift

The community already had partial – but nowhere near sufficient - electrification provided by the national grid. The demographics include urban, peri-urban and rural cattle posts. Most dwellings are shacks, RDP houses, stone houses and some privately-developed houses.

Within these parameters, the CRDP sought to provide the people of Schmidtsdrift with basic electricity and services. For with these come the basic rights to human dignity: access to lights , entertainment , information, security and communication; putting the people of Schmidtsdrift back in touch with the rest of the country.

Challenge Accepted

The challenge - an energy system that would satisfy these requirements and the resulting system design by SSS incorporated their SS20 smart Distribution box with a cell phone charging output, a solar panel that charges a battery housed in a stainless stell battery box, interior lighting and an outside security light with a motion sensor, A radio and a LCD Television set

With funding provided through the Expanded Public Work Programme, Specialised Solar Systems (SSS) was selected as service provider to bring alternative energy to the community. In keeping with SSS’s vision for providing managed, renewable and sustainable energy, 12 unemployed people (men and women) were selected by the community of Schmidtsdrift to be trained up as solar engineers.

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 The solar technologies supplied by Specialized Solar Systems for the Kheis Project include:

  • Smart solar energy producing DC micro-grids with remote managed hardware - SS20DC75 Managed.
  • Efficient DC appliances powered by the DC micro-grid systems.
  • Online Off-Grid Energy Management Utility with remote switching, payment facilitation, vendor management, solar system and end-user management services - SSS-EPOWER.
  • Product/service support.

Kheis - A New Dawn - Video: Energy producing DC micro-grids are making a significant difference in many lives by supplying DC energy at the installed location to efficient DC powered appliances such as lights, television, cell phone charging, radios and more.

Using DC (direct current) technologies, rather than the more traditional AC (alternating current) ones, Specialized Solar Systems has been able to develop off-grid solar systems that are easy to install,  safe to use in shacks (no open flames), made to the highest safety design specifications and are remotely manageable.

And because they are modular systems, they offer an incredible degree of design flexibility and threshold settings that can be adapted to the needs of any home or dwelling, or even any large-scale project such as the Kheis Project where Specialized Solar Systems is supplying DC micro-grid systems to the Kheis Municipality in the Northern Cape, South Africa.

The project aims to supply managed renewable energy and become a benchmark for the supply of basic human energy requirements that the rest of the world could follow.

The installed solar powered DC micro-grid systems are soft-managed by a web-based management platform, SSS-EPOWER  that was developed by Specialized Solar Systems for large-scale remotely manageable de-centralized solar energy supply.

The SSS20 dc micro-grid off-grid system used in the Kheis Project after a simple upgrade could further supply needed refrigeration.

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DC MICROGRID TECHNOLOGY IS THE ANSWER

On Wednesday 16 November a miracle happened in Sedgefield. Not a major, thunder-flashing miracle that would make national headlines, in fact many folks might not consider it a miracle at all.  But it was to Goodman Mbana, and his family.

It was the miracle of light.

A large portion of the residents of Smutsville Sizamile have been desperately waiting for electrification for many years. Some have even embarked on service delivery marches, not asking for better service, but for ANY service at all.  When the sun goes down they have to rely on the dull glow of paraffin lamps or candles, and watching TV is obviously not an option. This aside from the sharing of toilets between several families and having no direct access to water.