Remote South African Village Going Solar

Shell Solar will be integrating solar technology throughout the remote South African Village of Lucingweni…

Lucingweni, South Africa – October 23, 2002 [] Shell Solar will be integrating solar technology throughout the remote South African Village of Lucingweni. Consisting of 220 homes, the village is located about 4 km inland from the Hluleka Nature reserve, and according to Shell Solar, the village is ideally suited to test the company’s mini-grid solar program. Shell Solar will be installing the generating equipment on the top of the North-facing hill above the village. The equipment will consist of 6 off Proven 6 kW wind generators and a 50 kW array of S100 solar modules. In the longer term it is envisaged that a number of mini grids will be interconnected forming a “Macro” grid and eventually as the national grid comes to the area, to connect into the multiple mini grids. The existing generating equipment will then feed into the national grid as well. Unlike a number of villages in the Eastern Cape in the old Transkei region, this village was developed along more modern lines with each home on a designated plot of land. The land was structured so that each household’s piece of land abutted the next. Thus forming orderly rows along which you can string overhead conductors to each house. In a large number of the other villages the houses tend to be scattered and far apart from each other making it unfeasible to interconnect them onto an electrical grid. Lucingweni was identified by the government to be an ideal location to test the concept of Mini Grids. Especially because of its close proximity to Hluleka, where Shell Solar Southern Africa has already installed a much smaller mini grid. Lucingweni forms part of the government rural upliftment program. It will also add to the tourist potential of the area. Each home will be serviced by means of a “ready board” which has been extensively used in South African electrification program. The ready board is equipped with circuit breakers, Earth Leakage protection, plug points plus a control device that can be programmed to limit the maximum daily energy consumption and maximum current the customer can draw. The system will provide a maximum of 1 amp with a daily limit of 1 kWh per 24-hour period. This will allow each home to have access to satellite TV, lighting and radio. There will also be a supply of 230v to two shops and a community center. The government will be establishing an energy information center as part of our control center. This will be used to educate and inform the local rural population as to the use of various forms of energy as well as the sale of suitable appliances. The community center will be built so that there is enough space to establish some commercial activities, like a sewing center.
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