It is so good when you come across people with dreams, big goals and a strong desire to make the world a better place. Recently, one of these groups I have the pleasure of seeing in action is the team from Africa GreenTec’s that designs, builds, delivers, maintains and operates mobile solar systems in Africa. This is Africa‘s first eco-effective, sustainable and social swarm power plant.

Only about 13% of the population in rural areas in Mali have access to electricity according to the World Bank (stats from 2009). Changing this is part of the vision of Mobile Solarkraftwerke Afrika. Mobile Solarkraftwerke Afrika wants to provide the village Mourdiah in Mali (Western Africa) with electricity.

A crowdfunding campaign on bettervest was launched to make this possible. Investments are possible from €50. More than 80% of the funding goal was already crowdfunded within 3 days. Today, I’ve got an exclusive interview with Charlie Njonmou, CEO of Solarkraftwerke Afrika GmbH & Co. KG for you.

The developed world spent the last century in building centralized energy supply and distribution systems based on coal or nuclear power plants. In Germany, as part of the “Energiewende” (energy transition), this established centralized power generation and distribution system recently got augmented by decentralized power generation facilities owned by citizens and communities.

To help with economic growth in Africa, many projects have been set in place to build a reliable energy supply system. Unfortunately, in many places, this system gets build in the same way as in Europe decades ago: Centralized power plants with complex fuel supply networks, and long-distance power distribution networks – expensive to build and operate. Which also means that potential consumers living outside the big cities cannot be connected cost-efficiently. On top of that, the security issues do not allow investors with good intentions to provide the necessary funding for many of the clean energy projects in the poorer parts of Africa.

The German start-up has figured out how to cram an entire solar power plant into a shipping container. It has sent its first kits to off-grid villages in Africa, where they provide a source of clean, affordable electricity after just 2 hours of assembly.

Kersten’s team used crowdfunding to build its containerised power plants. Solar panels and batteries are packed up and folded into a standard shipping container. On arrival, the equipment unfurls around the container with minimal assembly and starts generating electricity. “For remote places away from a grid.

Air pollution is a pervasive, silent killer, not just in Africa but also in many other underdeveloped parts of the globe. Diesel generators are expensive to maintain fuel and pump out smoke particles. The result is a host of respiratory and cardiac diseases from Shanghai to Lagos. Generator emissions also contribute to acid rain, which affects crop yields and biodiversity, as well as releasing carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming. Solar power has none of these problems.

The next version planned by GreenTec has a bigger generator, with more panels and double the battery capacity. It will be able to store enough to last a small village through the night, powering everything from lighting to built-in water pumps. One container set to arrive in the village of Nafadji in Mali this December has a built-in water purification system that uses solar power.

The containers will be useful anywhere with a lot of sunlight (300 days or more per year) that isn’t connected to a national grid, and for everything from hotels to hospitals, says Kersten. Across the African continent, that’s hundreds of millions of people who could really use some power.

With better and cheaper battery technology being developed right now, in the next decade we are likely to see enormous improvements to the lives of people in need of low cost and most importantly clean energy.

Posted in: Crowd Funding

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