Utility-Based Solar Energy Management

 

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The National Alternative Energy Supply Company®

 

BACKGROUND

Specialized Solar Systems (SSS) is a solution driven company. With its core vision of ‘Lighting Africa’ the quest to understand and provide a sustainable solution to this challenge involved the gathering of a Team of individuals that could combine forces to make this a reality. Now, almost ten years later, we are ready to take it to scale, having completed nearly 20 000 installations ranging from simple unmanaged Solar Home Systems to sophisticated managed and monitored payment integrated systems with payment options and access to WiFi.

In developing a solution set, a delicate balance of core values needs to be maintained. SSS is a ‘for profit company’ functioning in a result and growth driven industry and has always sought to maintain a balance between social responsibility and growth - a balance that is not always easily achieved. Our relationship and collaboration with NGO’s, universities, government and the private sector has helped in maintaining the equilibrium and coupled with the fact that most of our installation sites were in some of the most remote and challenging areas in Africa, kept us humble.  

Giving honor where honor is due, recognizing technological breakthroughs, past and present and keeping abreast of developments in one of the fastest growing technological fields forms the foundation of operations and planning. Acquiring a Team that can function in unity, taking full advantage of available information, still challenging hurdles and who through sacrifice, innovation and at times pure luck stumbled onto solutions, we can now present a thoroughly tested approach to the current challenge.

At Specialized Solar Systems we understand that an approach to this challenge needs to be multifaceted and well rounded. Whenever a technical solution is designed and developed to meet a largely social need, it becomes easy to be sidetracked by the return on investment philosophy that in the end place the focus on the most lucrative segments of the market instead of providing a balance of service that could eventually benefit the poorest of the poor. In order to make a meaning full contribution our solutions need to be sustainable. A non-negotiable.

Unless proposed solutions could be brought to scale, it is not worth pursuing, the numbers are staggering and there are multitudes of publications highlighting the statistics with catch phrases such as ‘Africa, the darkest continent….. 600 Million un-electrified households in Sub-Saharan Africa…… etc.’ These statistics only underpin the fact that every possible entity that could make a difference should be supported and not criticized and that where possible, forces needs to be combined.

Besides the continous search for the best possible technical solutions a thorough understanding of the ‘human factor’ is needed. Too many conferences and meetings in the past ended at a ‘return to the drawing board’ to reconsider Government policies, legislative policies and political barriers and ended in an unnecessary delay whereas funding and solutions were available and a difference could have been made.

Unless we understand who and what to design for, our end result will be flawed at the core. In our current times, energisation is seen as a basic right by many people and as a service to be provided by their Governmental structures. However, the difference between universal access to and free basic electricity is often a bone of contention and managing these expectations of the utmost importance.

Traditional Energy Utilities have formed monopolies that leaves consumers with little choice. Interrupted and lack of supply coupled with tariff control and as in the case with many countries, supported by a national energy regulator, constitutes the norm. However, the consumer sovereignty model that normally dictates the production of goods and services excludes the careful consideration that needs to be given to local development of human capital, empowerment and job creation.

Even though traditional utilities are severely criticized, several key elements exist that have been tested over time. It is a known fact that consumers in the most remote locations are grid influenced and often have a utility model as a frame of reference. This should not necessarily be negative as the design parameters should, in an ideal world, cater for the arrival and integration of grid power to make available a more comprehensive basket of services.

Measurement is an essential element for effective management. For this, information is needed that enables the control measures that need to be exercised to be done seamlessly. However, the tension between management of systems and the organic development of human resources on the ground will ensure an amicable solution to managing remote installations in remote locations.

Funding of projects is often a bridge too far. Therefore, having the best possible technology and not being able to generate the resources to execute the program envisaged will lead to disappointment. However, careful consideration has to be taken in formulating the business model.

The technical design parameters set by the SSS R & D Team took into consideration a wide range of opportunities starting with the lower LSM’s and making provision for load profiles of higher LSM’s and SMME’s. Stimulating the grey economy often forms the backbone of entrepreneurial ventures and is a key pathway to reducing poverty and inequality. This, in turn, becomes the gateway to the formal sector that is more regulated and often forms the focus of design. However, a holistic approach could balance the financial viability and service both sectors successfully.  

Over the past years, the DC Solar Home Systems was developed to supply the need in the Non Grid sector with a specific relevance to remote rural villages. The technology is tried and tested and led to the SSS appointment as service provider to the South African Department of Energy and the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development. Under these programs, thousands of units were deployed successfully. The advantage in being involved in this rollout was the experience gained in evaluating this model as prescribed and the development of growth potential for these systems that could support a wide range of DC appliances – many of which were developed or adapted in our factory. This led to:

Observing the struggle to collect money, perform basic maintenance functions and the lack of control in the event of non-payment led to the software development to assist. The pilot program for testing was done in collaboration with the Sustainability Institute, linked to the University of Stellenbosch. Initial funding was done by a grant obtained by the Gates Foundation and further funding by the Green Fund. This was also the first Peri-Urban model that provided a service to a newly formed informal settlements on the outskirts of Stellenbosch, Western Cape. Observing the close proximity of the dwellings, the problem of tampering and the possibility to reticulate groups of houses from a central strategically based ‘solar generator’, led to the development of the sub-centralized base station.

Sustainability and achieving a diversity factor between users led to the development of the Sub-centralized Unit that could service between 9-13 customers depending on the load factor used in the design parameters. This was ground breaking, as it enabled a more centralized control option for distribution, reduced tampering and gives a diversity factor between customers that allow more users to be connected. This could only happen due to the fact that the base station and consumer behavior could be closely monitored and corrective as well as management actions performed.

SOLAR ENERGY MANAGEMENT

The use of solar energy production as a primary mechanism for energy distribution for large-scale and diverse demographic coverage is the culmination of many years of product development by Specialized Solar Systems.

The result is a world first, utility-based integrated solar energy management solution which encompasses all the necessary tools in a tiered-user-based online framework for sustainable and remotely managed energy supply. The solution is targeted at markets where grid electrification is not available.

Specialized Solar Systems Mission Statement

  • To supply energy to an off-grid customer in the rural LSM bracket.
  • To remotely monitor the energy that is produced and stored.
  • To remotely monitor the energy that is consumed and have the ability to remotely manage this energy on a daily basis, while allowing the programmability of the various platforms to manage this consumed energy versus the produced energy, ensuring that the system performs within the design parameters.
  • The programmability of our hardware allows us to adapt to the affordability of the customer by supplying the customer the correct amount of energy that they need daily and allowing them to contract for this energy and pay accordingly for this energy in a risk-free environment.

To achieve these objectives, Specialized Solar Systems introduced an online utility-based solar energy management platform which is available for use by different service providers, co-operations or funders, for the benefit of the sustainability in the installed areas.

The Management Program
Based on a pay-for-energy-usage business model, the integrated solution provides the tools to confidently supply much needed and environmentally friendly solar generated electrical energy at utility scale to a massive market with a variety of end user billing options. The skills required to implement an energy supply eco-environment with vendor outlets (point of sales) requires little training. The remotely managed smart solar systems hardware will fully operate in any environment where there is cell phone coverage. The platform allows each individual system to be recorded per GPS co-ordinates. It records and stores all the data relating to the customer, the hardware, the system status (ON/WARNING /OFF) as well as the payment package and procedure of each transaction. This will allow any layer of authority to log onto the cloud server and monitor what the position of the installations are and who has received them in real-time.

The Vendor Program
The vendor program allows for simple setup and effective management for energy purchases or point of sales. The vendor program interacts with the management program and allows the customers to pay for the contracted value at a convenient location accessible to them. This location or vendor payment point, could be a fish and chips shop, hardware store or even a private house. For the customer the payment terms are prepaid resulting in a risk-free strategy for the micro-utility or owner of the hardware. A vendor also requires funds in their account in order to be able to make sales. This all efficiently managed in the management program via a wallet system function. The vendor program communicates in real-time with the management program and uses
payment information to activate or deactivate the customers’ systems remotely.

SMS/EMAIL Gateways
The third cloud-based program is linked to both the management platform and the vendor platform.
This gateway allows the customer to be registered to be notified via email or SMS and to log into their
own user dashboard which provides them with real-times system data that includes the status of
their solar energy system, their payment history and support mechanism for their energy profile.

Utility based solar energy management
SSS-EPOWER is used extensively in many off-grid electrification projects where remote management and ground operations rely on the real-time data for efficient client, vendor outlets and solar systems management.


Some key features include:
  • Solar system management with remote switching.
  • User administration and management.
  • A variety of automated billing options.
  • Vendor payment facilitation and management.
  • Stock control and system logistics.
  • Advance security features.
  • End-user interaction.
  • Detailed reporting and systems overview.
  • Audit trail: System and user logging.

SSS-EPOWER: A SOLAR ENERGY MANAGEMENT PLATFORM

SSS-EPOWER is a centralised web-driven framework built with PHP scripting that is accessible with any modern internet browser. The framework uses dedicated, secure and reliable cloud hosting services. The framework has advanced user administration features and allows for the creation of individual system management clusters of solar energy service providers (utilities) for macro and micro solar energy management solutions.

EFFICIENT IMPLEMENTATION AND MANAGEMENT PROCESSES

Efficient setup and implementation protocols have been at the foundation of the frameworks development. The skills required to implement a completely automated off-grid solar energy supply environment with vendor outlets (point of sales)can be acquired with very little training.
sss epower quicksetup
Factory-built managed solar energy units are allocated to a defined solar energy service provider, whom then create and allocate these units to their individual sub-energy service providers(utilities) or outlets.

Payment packages or billing structures are then defined. The platform facilitates 3 different billing methods with remote system switching.

The various billing options:

  • Contract billing: A defined value is debited on a certain day every month.
  • Pay as you GO: Varied payment bundles (value = x days) are allocated to a PAYGO package.
  • Pay to Own: A total value is divided by the number of months which is then offset by end-user payments.

The different system switching states are either, ON (Green), WARNING (Orange) or OFF (Red). Switching happens when payment criteria are not met and can also be intervened manually, dependent on user administration rights. Ad-hoc debits and credits such as allocating additional invoices and credit notes are also available.

Once customer information is captured the information is then allocated to the managed solar energy system for complete automation of the billing and switching functions.

POS or payment points are created and managed within the main framework through a vendor management module that uses a wallet fund system for managing the process. The vendor user application interfaces via an API into the main framework through an external URL for added security. Vendor outlets are normally located within the vicinity of the installed managed units. All vendor transactions happen in real-time. The platform supports end-user registration that allows an end-user to log into their own dashboard via an API through any modern internet browser. This dashboard gives an overview of their system status, notifications, detailed account history, outstanding amounts, payment details for electronic funds transfers, energy supplier support information and any additional information.

The platform allows energy thresholds to be defined and set by management. For example: If a system is designed with a specification to deliver a maximum of 500 Watts of daily energy consumption, once this threshold is exceeded the system will automatically switch OFF, then reactivate in the new day (period). This allows the solar system to meet the longevity requirements within the original design specification.
 

PRODUCT SOLUTIONS

 
Specialized Solar Systems has 2 solution offerings. Each offering is dependent on energy scale requirements and demographic congestion.
 
1. De-Centralized Solar Solutions
The de-centralized solar solution is an off-grid solar energy system that is ideal for scattered environments where the distance between installations is large and the demographics is sparse. The de-centralized DC micro-grid product range is ideal for the supply of solar energy at an individual’s premises where it is produced and used. The product options are the SS20 and SS40 DC Micro-grid range. Both product offerings are available with optional management functionality.
 
SS20 & SS40 Solar DC Micro-grids Product Range (Click on image to enlarge)
 
2. Sub-Centralized Solar Solutions
The sub-centralized solar solution is an off-grid solar station that was developed to supply energy to multiple households (10-30) from a central location (nano-grid) and has multiple applications. The unit caters for many energy requirements with a whole range of available options and configurations.
 
 Sub-centralized Solar Stations Product Range (Click on image to enlarge)

 

 

DETAIL

Utility-based solar energy solution



The use of solar energy production as a primary mechanism for energy distribution for large-scale, diverse and non-grid electrified demographic coverage in Africa is the culmination of many years of product development by Specialized Solar Systems resulting in the formulation of an integrated solar energy supply solution.

A world first utility-based solar energy solution is now in its 4th year of operations. The platform provides all the correct management tools in an easy to use, tiered-user, online framework for sustainable remotely managed energy supply.
Utilty based solar energy management

Background - Situation analysis



The creation of electrical networks throughout the African continent is carefully governed by specific regulatory bodies. These regulatory bodies ensure a certain standard is maintained, keeping the equilibrium between social acceptance and service delivery. These standards have been developed over the last 100 years and has become the benchmark for any electrification, defining the protocol of implementation and ensuring viability.

Any new technology, which improves the concept of electrification, would need to conform to the level of operation as we know it today. We have seen the LED Revolution change the load pattern of most consumers throughout the world. This revolution, however, took place within the specified standards, maintaining the existing paradigm of installed electrification.

When the electrification of rural Africa is discussed, the first challenge is to address national standards of electrification and how a long-term strategy is implemented. The benchmark of evaluation will always relate to existing standards. The standards that have been designed for the purpose of maintaining effective distribution, is also the standard that will contribute to the argument that rural and peri-urban electrification will not or cannot be realised. This is due to the cost of a system, allocation of houses and social demographics. A good example of electrification without these standards is the illegal connection to the national grid in South Africa.

Through pure desperation the customers in peri-urban settlements have devised their own electrification protocol. Although this is illegal and can be dangerous, due to a lack of education on the principles of electrification, it does show that an acceptable customer standard can be achieved, within an acceptable cost parameter for various customers.

The various standards and installation regulations for electrification have been wholly focused on the delivery of alternating current and the potential kW draw or ampere available for the client. This determines the size of the generator and how the distribution network may be designed and installed.

The reality of the above has been discussed for many years, and although many countries have the full intention to deliver energy to all, the delivery of this electricity network is either simply not economically viable, or the lack of generation capacity places the priority of the peri-urban and rural people lower than industrial or commercial development.

It is therefore essential that a new set of standards be formulated, within acceptable parameters of the existing electrification paradigm, which will ensure the priority of rural and peri-urban informal settlement communities. This new set of standards would not necessarily be formulated by the energy design criteria, but rather by the customer’s basic needs, demands and luxury demands.

Through Specialized Solar Systems’ years of experience in providing electricity to those underserved by the national grid and the national electricity standards, as well as assistance from institutions such as the Stellenbosch University’s Sustainability Institute, the Vaal University of Technology and others, it has become evident that the following needs to be supplied to individual customers in order to meet the basic needs and demands of the customer.

Priority from 0-5 Rural and Peri-Urban Informal Settlements LSM1-3

Lights

5

Need

Cellphone Charging

5

Need

Radio

4

Need

Television

4

Demand

Laptop

3

Demand

Refrigeration

4

Demand

Internet Access

2

Demand

Cooking Facilities

4

Need

Cooling

3

Demand

Entertainment

*DSTV Satellite Receiver and Music System

4

Demand

Clothing Iron

2

Demand

Other

* Large AC TV 36”, hairdryer, microwave, electric stove, etc.

1

Luxury


To supply the above priority listing in the form of AC, one would need to allow for different kW ratings with diversity, leading to an energy system that will exceed the capital allowed for an effective business model.

The capital needed to generate 1kWh from a PV system with an AC output would vary between 650 USD and 714 USD. The minimum specification on the supply of the priority listing above would require 5A of 230V AC, which would have the potential to deliver 24kWh (without diversity) at a potential cost of between 15 600 USD and 17 136 USD. With diversity this figure could be reduced by up to 50%, however even with this it would still not be financially viable.

With the reduction of energy consumed in DC appliances and the limited availability of DC appliances, the load profile becomes more refined in relation to the priority listing. At present our customers’ load profiles vary between a maximum draw of 36W and 130W (fridge included), which is 5A AC consuming between 169Wh and 920Wh (fridge included) per day. It is apparent that, considering economic viability, this would be the only way to implement an electrification protocol for the poor.

Specialized Solar Systems standard formulation and supply design method

Domestic, Rural, Peri-urban and Informal sectrors



Methodology

The customer generally does not understand the difference between the supply of DC (direct current) and AC (alternating current) energy. The customer’s only concern would be to have a sustainable supply of energy servicing his needs, demands and potential luxury demands. In keeping with the law of supply and demand, the customer is willing to pay for the fulfilment of these needs and demands.

This customer segment requires innovative payment methods, unlike the standard of paying for kWh used.

In evaluating the supply of DC against AC standards the two supply methods cannot be compared and will eliminate the ability to service this market in the DC format. Let us instead evaluate the supply of energy in the DC format, to the satisfaction of the willing paying customer, maintaining a service level ensuring sustainability, safety and efficiency.

The DC Supply Method

The supplier or distributor needs to know, understand and evaluate the generator which will be used. Once this has been achieved, the energy supplier will need to understand, monitor and evaluate the distribution and load profile of the customers. The supplier will need to decide on a capital value of the generator, in order to tabulate the distribution cost and calculate a return of investment via the demand for the energy supplied. This can be illustrated as follows:
jons diagram 1


The summary of a sustainable energy supply model for our customers would require us to understand the daily generation capacity of the PV generator (average throughout the year, PV panel inclination and timeframe of production), monitor this value and utilize this supply as effectively as possible. A sustainable model would also necessitate storing the required amount of energy, understanding the storage method, monitoring this storage and ensuring correct distribution between the PV generator and storage is maintained.

Contracting with individual customers, monitoring each individual customer (load profiling), while allowing the load profiling to balance with the total supplied energy (batteries and PV), will contribute to a sustainable electrification model.

Full control of this PV generator and distribution, would enable us to understand what energy potential we have and how much of that can be sold, at what price, and this process culminates in the creation of a business model.

Flexibility of the Business Model

To ensure this electrification model can be applied to all areas throughout the African continent, the generation and distribution can be summarized in the main categories represented as follows:

Decentralized Energy Generation and Distribution (model confirmed by SI 1000 units)

The Decentralized Energy System can be explained as when the energy is generated on the roof of the installed customer’s dwelling, stored in the same premises and managed remotely.

jons diagram 2



Sub-Centralized Energy Generation and Distribution



The Sub-Centralized Energy Generator and Distributor can supply a limited number of houses (3-14) with the generator located at a specific area, energy is stored in this unit, distributed from this unit to the customer. The maximum distance from the Sub-Centralized Unit to customer is 100m.

jons diagram 3

Model formulated in Jabula Township, Cape Town

Centralized Energy Generation and Distribution

Within the high density peri-urban and urban informal settlements, the Centralized Supply Unit will be able to generate and store energy at a central point. This unit can supply up to 40 houses with the needs and demands of the customer and will be managed remotely. The maximum distance from the Centralized Unit to customers is 200m.
jons diagram 3

To achieve a sustainable model the following benchmarks are needed.

►     To return the initial capital within a 5-year period.

►     To ensure a supply, distribution and generation period of 20 years.

►     To ensure an installed capital cost including all hardware for the need portfolio below 750 USD.

►     To design and manufacture all hardware for monitoring and customer management within this cost framework.

►     To design and formulate all software for:

  • Manual system control – PV and storage
  • Distribution and vendor management
  • Customer connection and management

►     To ensure all the above within the preset cost framework.

►     To ensure the correct transfer of skills within this cost parameter.

►     To ensure the correct ratio of employment and service management within this cost framework.

►     To supply community, communal street lighting, internet access, community interaction and support mechanisms.

►     To maintain a specific regulator standard for all installations.

Remarks

►     The customer does not pay for energy, they pay for the ability to supply the different needs and demands as required.

►     The customer will have the option to select a payment package best suited to their needs.

►     Due to a lack of regulatory requirements in the distribution of LV DC, Specialized Solar Systems has formulated the framework ensuring safety and efficiency.

►     Due to a lack of cost-effective monitoring and remote management hardware, Specialized Solar Systems has had to develop all hardware in-house to manage all facets of the generation and distribution control.

►     As central control of management needs to be telematically controlled, SSS EPOWER was established as defined below.


Viability of Energy System

In order for the energy system to be considered viable, the energy provider would need to control:

►     The kWh generated from the PV generator remotely.

►     The kWh stored in the storage device.

►     The level at which this storage device is used.

►     The flow of energy to each individual customer.

►     The reserve or lack of reserve in the complete system.

►     The remote switching or programming of all these facets.

►     The inherent or internal consumption of the generator.

►     The management and control of the customer and flow of money from those customers.

An integrated management solution

The use of solar energy production as a primary mechanism for energy distribution for large-scale, diverse and non-grid electrified demographic coverage in Africa is the culmination of many years of product development by Specialized Solar Systems resulting in the formulation of an integrated solar energy supply solution.

A world first utility-based solar energy solution is now in its 4th year of operations. The platform provides all the correct management tools in an easy to use, tiered-user, online framework for sustainable remotely managed energy supply.

Utilty based solar energy management

The solution is used extensively in many off-grid electrification projects where remote management and ground operations rely on the real-time data for efficient client and system management.

Key features include:

  •     Solar system management with remote switching.
  •     User administration and management.
  •     A variety of automated billing options.
  •     Vendor payment facilitation and management.
  •     Stock control and system logistics.
  •     Advance security features.
  •     End-user interaction.
  •     Detailed reporting and systems overview.
  •     Audit trail: System and user logging.

SSS-EPOWER: A SOLAR ENERGY MANAGEMENT PLATFORM

SSS-EPOWER is a centralized web-driven framework built with PHP scripting that is accessible with any modern internet browser. The framework uses dedicated, secure and reliable cloud hosting services.

The framework has advanced user administration features and allows for the creation of individual system management clusters of solar energy service providers (utilities) for macro and micro solar energy management solutions.


EFFICIENT IMPLEMENTATION AND MANAGEMENT PROCESSES–AN OVERVIEW

Factory-built managed solar energy units are allocated to a defined solar energy service provider, whom then create and allocate these units to their individual sub-energy service providers(utilities) or outlets.

Payment packages or billing structures are then defined. The platform facilitates 3 different billing methods with remote system switching. The different switching states are either, ON (Green), WARNING (Orange) or OFF (Red). Switching happens when payment criteria are not met and can also be intervened manually, dependent on user administration rights. Ad-hoc debits and credits are also available.

The various billing options are:

  •     Contract billing: A defined value is debited on a certain day every month.
  •     Pay as you GO: Varied payment bundles (value = x days) are allocated to a PAYGO package.
  •     Pay to Own: A total value is divided by the number of months which is then offset by end-user payments.
Once customer information is captured the information is then allocated to the managed solar energy system for complete automation of the billing and switching functions.

sss epower quicksetup

POS or payment points are created and managed within the main framework through a vendor management module that uses a wallet fund system for managing the process. The vendor user application interfaces via an API into the main framework through an external URL for added security. Vendor outlets are normally located within the vicinity of the installed managed units. All vendor transactions happen in real-time.

The platform supports end-user registration that allows an end-user to log into their own dashboard via an API through any modern internet browser. This dashboard gives an overview of their system status, notifications, detailed account history, outstanding amounts, payment details for electronic funds transfers, energy supplier support information and any additional information.

The platform allows energy thresholds to be defined and set by management. For example: If a system is designed with a specification to deliver a maximum of 500 Watts of daily energy consumption, once this threshold is exceeded the system will automatically switch OFF, then reactivate in the new day (period). This allows the solar system to meet the longevity requirements within the original design specification.
 
 
 

For further information on implementation methodologies and product offerings,  please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 

For further information on the various SSS EPOWER software framework offerings,  please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 

 
 
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Our passion, empowering the disadvantaged, by using clean solar energy as a driver for equality acceleration.


1000 Specialized Solar Systems off-grid SS20 solar DC Microgrids are now being installed on behalf of the South African Department of Energy(DOE), in terms of their Rural Electrification Project in Oudtshoorn, South Africa.


The project began with an initial meeting with key players in the area. Individuals were then selected from their communities followed by training in all aspects of solar system installation and maintenance protocols by a team from Specialized Solar Systems.  Once the training was completed, the trained individuals received certificates of competence for their newly acquired skills. Teams were then formed and the installation roll-out began with the installers receiving a completion-based payment wages.

To date, 400 units have been completed. Once all the installations are completed, the solar systems maintenance protocols will be managed using the top performing individuals who also reside within these communities. The local occupants are at last receiving much needed basic energy for lighting and cell phone charging. Prior to this project, Specialized Solar Systems has completed 660 SS20 DC Microgrids in the same area also on behalf of the Department of Energy.


The project is making use of the very popular modular designed solar powered SS20 DC-microgrid produced by Specialized Solar Systems. The SS20 DC-microgrid can power many other DC appliances such as a TV, radio and even a fridge.

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Your Piece of the Sun Energy, Gender and Poverty in Urban South Africa

Specialized Solar Systems technologies feature in this short film and are used in the iShack project (10:40 - 14:10).

“Your Piece of the Sun”, a captivating film (25 minutes long) produced by Lloyd Ross and Joelle Chesselet for Sustainable Energy Africa, explores the challenges of energy, gender and poverty in urban South Africa. Through illuminating case studies and interviews with people on the ground, new approaches and innovative solutions to energy service delivery for low-income households are illustrated.

This film is intended to raise discussion and awareness and inspire innovative work in improving energy service delivery and access for low income households and in turn improve socio-economic development.

Lloyd Ross
Camera/directory/editor

Joelle Chesselet
Producer/director

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Installation of demonstration solar unit at the UNISA Institute for Social and Health Services

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Specialized Solar Systems (SSS) was asked to supply and install a demonstration unit at the Unisa Institute for Social and Health Services at their campus, south of Johannesburg.  The initiative was initiated by PEER Africa, who in collaboration with the UNISA research team, headed up by Dr. David K Kimemia who is researching a comprehensive model for the supply of services and solutions to be deployed in Day Care centres.

SSS was selected to demonstrate alternative energy that could provide dignity and functionality that would enhance the life quality and conditions at these centres.

Click on images to enlarge

Installation

Two demonstration units were built on the tennis court at the facility. It was decided to install a Sub-centralized System (energy producing off-grid solar station) as the primary source of energy. This system is equipped with four solar panels, batteries, switchgear and monitoring equipment with wi-fi functionality active for remote monitoring and switching. Furthermore, communication was established between the system and linked to the SSS e-power utility-based online solar energy management platform for further functionality.

One of the units was equipped with two inside lights, one outside security light, a DC plug box, linked to an internal Distribution Unit with cell phone charge point. The second unit was equipped with a Distribution Unit, Two lights inside and one security light outside.

Furthermore, a DC television (equipped with USB port for the viewing of Movies, Photo’s etc.), DC Radio, DC Cooler fan Unit, and DC Fridge/Freezer was added to demonstrate the functionality of the System. Also on display is the ‘Refugee Unit’ designed and built under specification to serve as a water container with kettle, built-in battery and controller and the ability to pump water to a shower head for cleaning of wounds etc. The unit also has a light and the ability to charge cell phones and the ability to connect small DC appliances such as a radio, additional lights etc.

Philosophy

The philosophy behind the planning for these units is to supply lights as essential, cell charging for communication, the radio for information and the television. The measure of functionality achieved will help bring these targeted institutions closer to their constitutional right to dignity.

Outcome

The installation was well received by all the stakeholders and great excitement generated.

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For more information please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.