African Villages Go Solar with SOLARtec

Marianne Schnell, Project Manager with SOLARtec talks about how the company's unique solar system in a box approach can help rural villages go solar, bringing electricity to villages that have never before been had access to the grid.


Titus Olaniyi
July 14, 2010
It is important to understand and appreciate that a 'single source' of energy solution is unsustainable in any economy.

Developing African economy requires both 'Centralised', 'Decentralised','Renewable' and 'Non-renewable sources of energy for sustainable development.

Issues in respect of maintenance, costing, ownership, adaptation etc are subset of a 'bigger equation ' (energy for sustainable development).

I suspect and agree that the concept described above is a viable and sustainable attempt in solving the 'bigger equations'.
Jenny French
July 10, 2009
I would like to see more quantitative information on storage capacity, solar generation, cost, number of people served, grid connectivity and power loss, etc. I don't mean to advertise here, but there's a chance a container load of our SUNRNR portable solar generators could be a better solution. I would very much appreciate feedback, please visit
Thomas J. Setter
July 10, 2009
This is GREAT. It wiil allow PROGRESS to be made. Electricity is the KEY to getting rid of Poverty.
Just like Cell Phones helped them bypass gound lines in TELECOMMUNICATIONS this will allow Villages and Farmers do the same.
They need Electricity.
They are making progess. This will give them HOPE and a HAND UP.
Mary Saunders
July 10, 2009
If this is a continuing, organized joint venture, maybe this time the criticisms in the comments preceding mine will be overcome. If one just looks at history, it seems a long shot indeed, but history does not always predict the future. What seemed not so auspicious to me was the comment about running TV's, a transmit-only technology. I would have felt better if the measurement had been how many low-cost laptops that could run for how long. She referred to the NGO. I didn't pick up the name of the NGO. This is the kind of report that would benefit from text links added on.
Years ago we did already some research on solar systems, whether centralized or decentralized would be the better solution. Never, really never, centralized supply could beat decentralized installations in terms of costs, safety, and maintenance and supply security. Only one battery failure in this beautiful container will black out the whole village, including hospital.
You need the same amount of solar power, the same number of battery storage capacity, but you do need much more infrastructure in cabling, switch boxes, fuses, support structure, metering devices and other hardware when implementing a centralized system.
Separate systems for homes, schools, hospitals and water pumping give more reliability then any centralized system can provide and also divide the responsibility. Moreover, you may utilize national products like cables, support structures and even batteries. Maintenance will be highly facilitated.
Therefore, pleas revise this concept and spend the same amount of money for decentralized systems which are also much more adapted for the African reality.
Reynier Funke
July 10, 2009
Although these projects are great examples, there is a fundamental problem, it all depends on charity. The installation looks like a high-tech best in class kind and would probably cost in order of 5.000 Euro/kWe installed. The electricity costs will be in the 30 Eurocts/kWh range, who is going to pay for it the next 20 years to recover the capital investment? Who will do the maintenance? While travelling in Africa in the past 2 years I have seen too many industrial ruins. And that was less expensive and simpler equipment. These questions need to be addressed for long term success, otherwise all that happens is that tax payer and charity money flows to projects that will become non functional long before the investment has been recovered! Worse, such imported high-tech projects will hinder the adaptation or own development of energy sources 100% suitable for Africa!

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