Irish energy consultants bring free solar to Africa

Irish charity Solar Without Frontiers has installed a solar power system to supply free electricity to a school in Tanzania.

The charity, based in County Cork was set up by a group of energy consultants with the aim of bringing solar energy to disadvantaged communities in Africa.

The St Benedict school provides affordable education to 500 secondary pupils. The school established an IT room to teach pupils computer skills with the help of another Irish charity, Camara.

However, the power supply from the existing diesel generators proved insufficient and too costly to make full use of the facility.

The school raised funds to purchase of a 3.5 kW solar power system combining 20 large solar PV panels and a 1.2 tonne battery system to store the electricity produced.

Solar Without Frontiers volunteers, Tim Hehir, a commandant in the Defence Forces Corps of Engineers, and Fritz Raake, managing director of Solaris travelled to Tanzania to install the solar power system.

The computer room and a number of lights at the school are now being supplied reliably and at no fuel cost with solar electricity.

Tim Hehir said: "It was a privilege to be able to apply my knowledge and training to such a worthy cause.

"Africa's vast size and inadequate electrical infrastructure should be seen as an opportunity for them to bypass fossil fuels as a means of electricity generation and implement renewable energy technologies on a wide scale."

Solar Without Frontiers is also supporting the uptake of portable solar lights in Kenya through a local micro-finance project as a cheaper and cleaner alternative to kerosene lamps.

You can find out more about the charity's projects at their website. Alison Brown


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