feature-solar roof tiles offer tech boost for kenya\'s rural classrooms
Thomson Reuters Foundation-Mid-
In the morning at gaitheri Middle School in mulanga county, central Kenya, students, like any other school, are busy with their daily lives.
But their institutions are different.
Have a better power supply than most rural classrooms.
It\'s an iron.
The roof covers energy-clad tiles
Production of solar cells
Innovative Solar energy
Called Building-power technology
Photovoltaic integration \"(BIPV).
Designed to lay on the roof during construction, these tiles provide an alternative to adding solar panels to the top to generate electricity from the energy of the sun.
Solar tiles are also being introduced in other countries.
Electric car maker Tesla Inc. is taking tile orders in the UK and the US, where the first such roof has recently been installed.
Tesla said the product would be more expensive than a traditional roof, but would look better, eventually paying for itself with lower power costs.
In Kenya, the tiles of the gaitheri School, which has 275 students, are made by the Kenyan company Strauss energy and funded by the American Foundation for African development.
\"They want an institution that is far from the city center and poorly connected to the grid,\" said Jackson camo Kila, an ancient teacher . \".
The program started in 2016 and, thanks to more reliable power, means they can even learn after dark, which enables students to improve their grades.
Solar energy is stored in batteries to ensure continuous power supply at night and cloudy days.
BIPV technology also allows schools to offer computer courses, Kiragu said.
\"We have 18 computers, but electricity was a challenge before Strauss energy joined,\" he said . \".
Schools are also connected to the state grid, but power supply is expensive and often goes out of power, especially during the rainy season.
Solar tiles reduce the school\'s electricity bill to 1,500 Kenyan shillings (about $14. 50)
A month, this is mainly the fixed cost of access to the grid.
\"Regardless of the weather, we rely on solar energy,\" Kiragu said . \".
There is still a large proportion of Kenya\'s population of about 45 million people who do not have access to electricity, especially in rural areas, and as the country increases its efforts to curb climate change, demand for green energy is
An investigation commissioned by Christian Aid and Pan
Earlier this year, the African Climate Justice Alliance showed that only about 57% of Kenyans are connected to the grid, indicating a huge potential demand for areas outside the grid. grid energy.
This has led to innovations such as Strauss Energy\'s Biv technology.
Wanjiku, the company\'s chief operating officer, said the company was motivated to develop patented technology because Kenya had plenty of sunshine but was not fully utilized.
The technology may help make up for the shortage of water and electricity, and water and electricity production has fallen due to the drought affecting the water levels of rivers and reservoirs, Wanjiku said.
BIPV can also create jobs, she added, as tiles must be made and fixed on the roof by technicians.
While progress is being made on this technology, Wan jiku noted that the construction industry in Kenya is rigid in adopting new technologies.
Given that the technology is new and the market penetration is still slow, it will take some time to build trust and acceptance within a wider customer base, she added.
However, solar tiles were listed at a time when China\'s policy shift in the construction industry to take advantage of solar energy.
On April, the Kenyan Energy Regulatory Commission instructed the owners of buildings that use more than 100 liters of hot water per day to install solar waterHeating system.
Mr Wan hopes that changes in these policies will drive the use of solar energy. Tile Technology. “(It)
\"This is ideal for real estate developers, schools and hospitals,\" she said . \" She added that this may still be expensive for individual residences.
According to the size of the tile, the price of each tile is between $20 and $250.
Research and development is under way to improve products, reduce costs, and improve efficiency, Wanjiku said.
Strauss Energy plans to build a factory that produces 10,000 units a day.
Meanwhile, Kiragu believes solar tiles are a boon for schools.
Installing them on a school building can play a role in providing cheap, reliable electricity, he said.
In addition, the tiles are made of clay and durable plastic and can therefore be used to collect rainwater for home use, he added.
In gaitheri, the school building is not designed for solar energy.
As a result, these tiles are placed on the existing roof.
They are arranged in 12 batches, including one circuit.
The electricity from the circuit is delivered to the battery equipped with the charging unit, which indicates the amount of electricity generated.
The school has 300 tiles, producing a total of 300 KW, eight batteries and 25
Life span of one year and 48-volt system.
\"We usually monitor these two sources --
Power grid and solar energy (power)-
\"We noticed that although the power of the grid shows fluctuations, the solar energy is constant,\" Kiragu said . \".
Muddy Ramrakha, finance director, board of directors, green building society, Kenya, said Biv technology could make a significant contribution to easing reliance on the state grid.
But there are challenges that need to be overcome, including raising awareness among potential users.
He predicts that while PV devices are becoming cheaper globally, the cost and durability of battery technology will remain an obstacle for some time to come.
Wider access to funding to promote the use of green building technologies will help expand the adoption of clean energy innovations such as solar tiles, he added. ($1 = 103.
2000 Kenyan shillings)(
A report by Wanzala and Judah;
Edited by Megan Rowling.
Please thank the Thomson Reuters Foundation, a Thomson Reuters charity that covers humanitarian news, climate change, resilience, women\'s rights, trafficking and property rights. Visit news. trust. org/climate)