Remember…You are SOMEBODY

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Remember...You are SOMEBODY

A great quote nestled on one of the walls at the Center for Social Innovation in New York.
“I always wondered why SOMEBODY didn’t do something about that. Then I realized I was SOMEBODY.”

Hey SOMEBODY…Go do something. Make a positive CHANGE.

Solar Democracy – There is a solar option for everyone

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

I have been fascinated with solar technology for over two decades, explored the different technologies in the space in the last 10 years and started working actively in the newest sector of the Solar industry since 2012. At this point, I can categorically state that there is a solar solution for every one regardless of their level on the social ladder. Talk about solar portable lanterns (SPLs) for people without access to the grid, SPLs with phone charging capabilities, small home systems, medium sized plug and play systems and large home systems, which require installation of multiple solar panels and a battery bank.

It is so refreshing to learn that just like phones, everyone now has the ability to be able to purchase a solar device that can provide the level of power they need. This article is about exposing our readers to those different options and empowering them to make the choice that best suits their needs, or give them out as gifts to those in need. For some folks, their solar home system will be able to provide plain old electricity while for others, it will just be something to light up the home and keep their phone batteries charged. Though, you will be amazed to learn that simply “lighting up” and getting their “phones charged at will” is a big step change in their life.

Interestingly, the whining is same across the social strata: “Solar is expensive” they all say. I like to say it is not. Initial set up costs are pretty high, but it requires no additional cost after installation and results in long term cost savings, regardless of whether you are rich or poor. Above all, it benefits to the environment and contributes to a healthy energy mix, which is required for a sustainable future. Now, lets take a look at the different solar options mentioned above.

Solar Home Systems

Most people are aware of the standard solar home system in which you install solar panels on the roof  and it generates electricity for your home needs. Drive through San Francisco in California and you will find several roofs dotted with solar electricity and water heating systems. I like to refer to California as the “Solar capital of America”. Globally, Germany holds the record of the country with the greatest installed solar capacity. I am also proud to state that Nigeria is not completely left out and we are catching up. At least, you can find high quality solar systems at work at one street in Surulere and Lekki, both in Lagos, Nigeria.

Solar Portable Lights (SPL)

With regard to alleviating energy poverty, I believe that SPLs are the solar devices that have created the greatest impact for people at the bottom of the pyramid in the last few years. With prices ranging between 10 – 40 dollars per piece, over 1 billion people in the world who rely on kerosene for lighting or have no access to the electricity grid now have a safe and reliable option to light up their homes at night. Some of these solar lanterns also double as phone chargers.

Interestingly, these devices are being used not only in the rural areas, but in the peri-urban and urban areas as a supplement to the unreliable power situation; especially across East African countries where awareness of solar technology is much higher relative to West Africa.

 

Plug and Play Solar Systems

I like to refer to the plug and play systems as the mid-range options. Here, you have systems that can range from 10 Watts to 1,000 Watts, capable of lighting the bulbs in your home, powering your fans, television, laptop and small refrigerators in some cases. They are very common in countries like India and Pat-as-You-Go (PAYG) innovations make these systems affordable and popular in those regions.

They are referred to as “plug and play” because they do not require installation, unlike the regular solar home systems. You just place the solar panel on the roof facing the best direction in your locale and plus the associated wires to the power box. This power box then delivers the electricity or power needs in line with its rating.

Like we say, there is so much to learn in the space. We will continue to bring useful, practical and relevant renewable energy information to you in manageable pieces.

Powering your Home with Solar Energy in Naija

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

The electricity situation in Nigeria is very bad as blackouts are consistently recorded on a daily basis even in the major cities. I guess only a few exclusive places like the Aso rock Villa has constant electricity from the grid on a 24/7 basis. This situation has made petrol and diesel generators a standard feature in homes and offices across the nation, and you would be amazed at the staggering cost of fueling these generators. In addition, generators are not a long term solution to our power issues and they contribute to noise and environmental pollution, which will have dire consequences for generations to come. Imagine the amount of carbon mono-oxide (CO) being released from the over 60 million generators in operation across Nigeria today, the non-stop humming, the physical smoke and the cash drain on the economy.

At New Energy Africa, we believe that solar energy is one sustainable way to solve our power problem in Nigeria and across the rest of Africa. It is pertinent to note that solar power is gradually growing as a percentage of the energy mix even in the very developed countries of the West. To go solar in Nigeria and most parts of Africa where the grid is unreliable, you need a solar home system with back-up battery bank. Conversely, in most parts of Europe and America, Solar home systems are grid-tied and channel excess electricity generated into the grid for a credit, and opportunity for others to utilize.

The basic components of a solar system that will work well in Nigeria will include the under-listed. Please note that the images are from an operating solar home system in Lekki, just after the second toll gate. Be assured that Solar works in Nigeria if properly installed and quality materials are used.

Solar Panels

The solar panels are the biggest part of the system (in terms of space) and the only parts visible to your neighbours. They simply convert sunlight into electricity for use. Chikena!.  Most panels, like the ones pictured have a capacity of generating 250W of electricity at peak performance. So, 4 panels will deliver 250 * 4 = 1,000 Watts. That’s equal to a 1Kilowatt system (4 panels) which can serve as an entry level solar system for any home in Nigeria.

ImageAll images in this post are courtesy of Solynta Energy – http://www.solynta.com.ng

The image shown above is a 5kw system (20 panels) that is enough to power the biggest homes in the countrty. It will power appliances including multiple ACs, refrigerator and water heater during the day while the panels are being heated by the sun. At night, you will have to ration energy depending on the size of your battery bank, but at least you will always have the fans (and maybe 1 AC) on all through the night

The Inverter

Solar Panels generate Direct Current (DC) and stores same in the battery bank. Our home appliances need Alternating Current (AC) to function appropriately. The inverter simply convert DC to AC. During the day while the sun is hitting the panels, it generates electricity (current) for use and whatever is not being used at that time is stored in the batteries. This current is direct and needs to be converted into and alternating format and that is what the inverter does whether it is pulling current direct from the solar panels or alternatively, from the battery bank. The system also has a guage that shows you how much power the appliances are using at every point in time.

Image Image

Charge Controller

This protects the battery bank from being overcharged or damaged by power being generated by the solar panels.

Image

Battery bank

The battery banks stores power for use during the dark hours of the day when the solar panels are not producing energy.

Image

This article is our first installation on educating our readers on the way to go solar. There is still a lot more to come. We look forward to your comments, questions and suggestions.

This thing called ENERGY…and Africa

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Simple physics tells us that “Energy is the ability to do work“. Therefore, the more energy we have access to, the more work we can achieve and the greater we can develop our societies. Today, we hear so much about how Africa is the next frontier for businesses and all kinds of opportunities, but the continent and its people are lagging behind and losing out on many fronts because of unreliable access to electricity by so many and the total lack of it by even more Africans.

Mind boggling statistics (as at 2010) on this energy challenge can be found below, showing that almost 600 million Africans do not have any access to electricity. See how well North Africa fares compared to the rest of the continent.

Capture

This unreliable access to electricity is the reason you hear so many petrol and diesel generators humming on the streets of Lagos in Nigeria, resulting in billions of dollars being wasted on unnecessary fossil fuels and environmental/noise pollution. So many small business owners from Mombasa to Monrovia close their shops way too early because there are no reliable lighting options to keep the shops bright as dusk falls. Imagine the amount of lost income that this results in on an annual basis.

This post is not just focusing on the problem, but seeking out a solution; one of the reasons the New Energy Africa Platform exists. Things really have to change and we are calling on all citizens to be part of the solution. African governments are not as responsive as we expect, so “People Power” is needed to change the status quo.

A very large proportion of the millions of people without access to the grid will not get one in the next five years, so they will have to seek other ways to get electricity to their homes. Something needs to be done quickly as data from the field indicates that the grid is advancing much slower than population growth in Africa. At NEA, we believe that  renewable energy sources, especially portable and modular solar systems are viable solutions to bring about this desired change and we are all for it. As quoted in a recent article, “When you have villagers who are interested in putting up solar panels on the roof or want a solar lantern, they can go buy it off the shelf and bring it home the very same day“. This is the kind of convenience we want citizens across the continent to be able to enjoy; getting power in their hands as soon as they need it.

Please tell us the name of your city and what happens when power cuts happen. What are the alternate sources of electricity mostly deployed? Also think about those in your country who do not have access to the grid and tell us about an innovative solution that can both be affordable and reliable. We look forward to your comments and hope to get interesting views and solutions from people around Africa.

Remember…You are SOMEBODY

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Remember...You are SOMEBODY

A great quote nestled on one of the walls at the Center for Social Innovation in New York.
“I always wondered why SOMEBODY didn’t do something about that. Then I realized I was SOMEBODY.”

Hey SOMEBODY…Go do something. Make a positive CHANGE.

Solar Democracy – There is a solar option for everyone

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

I have been fascinated with solar technology for over two decades, explored the different technologies in the space in the last 10 years and started working actively in the newest sector of the Solar industry since 2012. At this point, I can categorically state that there is a solar solution for every one regardless of their level on the social ladder. Talk about solar portable lanterns (SPLs) for people without access to the grid, SPLs with phone charging capabilities, small home systems, medium sized plug and play systems and large home systems, which require installation of multiple solar panels and a battery bank.

It is so refreshing to learn that just like phones, everyone now has the ability to be able to purchase a solar device that can provide the level of power they need. This article is about exposing our readers to those different options and empowering them to make the choice that best suits their needs, or give them out as gifts to those in need. For some folks, their solar home system will be able to provide plain old electricity while for others, it will just be something to light up the home and keep their phone batteries charged. Though, you will be amazed to learn that simply “lighting up” and getting their “phones charged at will” is a big step change in their life.

Interestingly, the whining is same across the social strata: “Solar is expensive” they all say. I like to say it is not. Initial set up costs are pretty high, but it requires no additional cost after installation and results in long term cost savings, regardless of whether you are rich or poor. Above all, it benefits to the environment and contributes to a healthy energy mix, which is required for a sustainable future. Now, lets take a look at the different solar options mentioned above.

Solar Home Systems

Most people are aware of the standard solar home system in which you install solar panels on the roof  and it generates electricity for your home needs. Drive through San Francisco in California and you will find several roofs dotted with solar electricity and water heating systems. I like to refer to California as the “Solar capital of America”. Globally, Germany holds the record of the country with the greatest installed solar capacity. I am also proud to state that Nigeria is not completely left out and we are catching up. At least, you can find high quality solar systems at work at one street in Surulere and Lekki, both in Lagos, Nigeria.

Solar Portable Lights (SPL)

With regard to alleviating energy poverty, I believe that SPLs are the solar devices that have created the greatest impact for people at the bottom of the pyramid in the last few years. With prices ranging between 10 – 40 dollars per piece, over 1 billion people in the world who rely on kerosene for lighting or have no access to the electricity grid now have a safe and reliable option to light up their homes at night. Some of these solar lanterns also double as phone chargers.

Interestingly, these devices are being used not only in the rural areas, but in the peri-urban and urban areas as a supplement to the unreliable power situation; especially across East African countries where awareness of solar technology is much higher relative to West Africa.

 

Plug and Play Solar Systems

I like to refer to the plug and play systems as the mid-range options. Here, you have systems that can range from 10 Watts to 1,000 Watts, capable of lighting the bulbs in your home, powering your fans, television, laptop and small refrigerators in some cases. They are very common in countries like India and Pat-as-You-Go (PAYG) innovations make these systems affordable and popular in those regions.

They are referred to as “plug and play” because they do not require installation, unlike the regular solar home systems. You just place the solar panel on the roof facing the best direction in your locale and plus the associated wires to the power box. This power box then delivers the electricity or power needs in line with its rating.

Like we say, there is so much to learn in the space. We will continue to bring useful, practical and relevant renewable energy information to you in manageable pieces.

Powering your Home with Solar Energy in Naija

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

The electricity situation in Nigeria is very bad as blackouts are consistently recorded on a daily basis even in the major cities. I guess only a few exclusive places like the Aso rock Villa has constant electricity from the grid on a 24/7 basis. This situation has made petrol and diesel generators a standard feature in homes and offices across the nation, and you would be amazed at the staggering cost of fueling these generators. In addition, generators are not a long term solution to our power issues and they contribute to noise and environmental pollution, which will have dire consequences for generations to come. Imagine the amount of carbon mono-oxide (CO) being released from the over 60 million generators in operation across Nigeria today, the non-stop humming, the physical smoke and the cash drain on the economy.

At New Energy Africa, we believe that solar energy is one sustainable way to solve our power problem in Nigeria and across the rest of Africa. It is pertinent to note that solar power is gradually growing as a percentage of the energy mix even in the very developed countries of the West. To go solar in Nigeria and most parts of Africa where the grid is unreliable, you need a solar home system with back-up battery bank. Conversely, in most parts of Europe and America, Solar home systems are grid-tied and channel excess electricity generated into the grid for a credit, and opportunity for others to utilize.

The basic components of a solar system that will work well in Nigeria will include the under-listed. Please note that the images are from an operating solar home system in Lekki, just after the second toll gate. Be assured that Solar works in Nigeria if properly installed and quality materials are used.

Solar Panels

The solar panels are the biggest part of the system (in terms of space) and the only parts visible to your neighbours. They simply convert sunlight into electricity for use. Chikena!.  Most panels, like the ones pictured have a capacity of generating 250W of electricity at peak performance. So, 4 panels will deliver 250 * 4 = 1,000 Watts. That’s equal to a 1Kilowatt system (4 panels) which can serve as an entry level solar system for any home in Nigeria.

ImageAll images in this post are courtesy of Solynta Energy – http://www.solynta.com.ng

The image shown above is a 5kw system (20 panels) that is enough to power the biggest homes in the countrty. It will power appliances including multiple ACs, refrigerator and water heater during the day while the panels are being heated by the sun. At night, you will have to ration energy depending on the size of your battery bank, but at least you will always have the fans (and maybe 1 AC) on all through the night

The Inverter

Solar Panels generate Direct Current (DC) and stores same in the battery bank. Our home appliances need Alternating Current (AC) to function appropriately. The inverter simply convert DC to AC. During the day while the sun is hitting the panels, it generates electricity (current) for use and whatever is not being used at that time is stored in the batteries. This current is direct and needs to be converted into and alternating format and that is what the inverter does whether it is pulling current direct from the solar panels or alternatively, from the battery bank. The system also has a guage that shows you how much power the appliances are using at every point in time.

Image Image

Charge Controller

This protects the battery bank from being overcharged or damaged by power being generated by the solar panels.

Image

Battery bank

The battery banks stores power for use during the dark hours of the day when the solar panels are not producing energy.

Image

This article is our first installation on educating our readers on the way to go solar. There is still a lot more to come. We look forward to your comments, questions and suggestions.

This thing called ENERGY…and Africa

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Simple physics tells us that “Energy is the ability to do work“. Therefore, the more energy we have access to, the more work we can achieve and the greater we can develop our societies. Today, we hear so much about how Africa is the next frontier for businesses and all kinds of opportunities, but the continent and its people are lagging behind and losing out on many fronts because of unreliable access to electricity by so many and the total lack of it by even more Africans.

Mind boggling statistics (as at 2010) on this energy challenge can be found below, showing that almost 600 million Africans do not have any access to electricity. See how well North Africa fares compared to the rest of the continent.

Capture

This unreliable access to electricity is the reason you hear so many petrol and diesel generators humming on the streets of Lagos in Nigeria, resulting in billions of dollars being wasted on unnecessary fossil fuels and environmental/noise pollution. So many small business owners from Mombasa to Monrovia close their shops way too early because there are no reliable lighting options to keep the shops bright as dusk falls. Imagine the amount of lost income that this results in on an annual basis.

This post is not just focusing on the problem, but seeking out a solution; one of the reasons the New Energy Africa Platform exists. Things really have to change and we are calling on all citizens to be part of the solution. African governments are not as responsive as we expect, so “People Power” is needed to change the status quo.

A very large proportion of the millions of people without access to the grid will not get one in the next five years, so they will have to seek other ways to get electricity to their homes. Something needs to be done quickly as data from the field indicates that the grid is advancing much slower than population growth in Africa. At NEA, we believe that  renewable energy sources, especially portable and modular solar systems are viable solutions to bring about this desired change and we are all for it. As quoted in a recent article, “When you have villagers who are interested in putting up solar panels on the roof or want a solar lantern, they can go buy it off the shelf and bring it home the very same day“. This is the kind of convenience we want citizens across the continent to be able to enjoy; getting power in their hands as soon as they need it.

Please tell us the name of your city and what happens when power cuts happen. What are the alternate sources of electricity mostly deployed? Also think about those in your country who do not have access to the grid and tell us about an innovative solution that can both be affordable and reliable. We look forward to your comments and hope to get interesting views and solutions from people around Africa.