As a part of Santa Clara University's Global Fellows program I am spending six weeks in Ghana volunteering with Bright Generation Community Foundation in different communities.
Ghana's electrical grid is terribly unreliable. The few that have access to the grid are dependent on temperamental power outages that occur multiple times a day.
The community of greater Ejura is suffering. These people mostly do not have access to electricity or running water. I have personally seen the living conditions of families in this community and am amazed at their resilience and high spirits given the circumstances. Bringing electricity in the form of a small solar tracker will improve the standard of living and safety for a number of members in this community. Ideally this system will be able to charge cell phones, lanterns, and even power a small water pump.
How will I do this? I've done this before. In the Spring of 2014 I volunteered my services to the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy to successfully build a solar tracker with the help of the SunSaluter system (sunsaluter.com). The SunSaluter works using a water clock and a few hinges to keep the solar panel perpendicular to the sun throughout the day. This dramatically increases the efficiency of the panel; by up to 40%.
I plan to use the same basic design for this project. I will be working alongside experts at Bright Generation's bamboo bike factory in Toase, Ghana where I will have access to a workshop and lots of bamboo. This is what I plan to use, along with the SunSaluter, to construct the frame.
I have contacted a local solar distributer in Accra, Ghana and he has given me an initial quote of 2,797GHS or $834. On top of this I will be ordering about $200 worth of parts from the U.S. that will come with another volunteer at the end of July.
With your help we can make a visible differences in the communities in and around Ejura. This project will provide a number of people with access to electricity, something they may very well have never had near their home. Granted, it is only one project - but hopefully it's the first of many. Renewable energy is the future and it doesn't hurt to show kids in Ghana that energy is not complicated! It doesn't have to come out of a wall.
Let's do this.
Risks and challenges
Reliability of parts is a concern, but I am only working with solar distributers in Ghana who have been personally verified by experts in the Santa Clara/San Jose community. I am confident the parts will be functional when I receive them.
Another small concern I have is compatibility of U.S. materials with international materials. Only time will tell if this is a problem. The likelihood of this being an issue is small, as all of the major components in this system are coming from the same place. The parts I will be ordering from the U.S. include an inverter, circuit breakers, and a few ring terminal connectors.
My final concern is theft. Solar panels are worth a pretty penny, but with the right design, we can minimize the chance of theft occurring. The solar panel along with the electrical components shelf will detach from the frame, so they can be safely brought inside at night.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (25 days)