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Frank Jackson and Mark Hankins ©2000 Frank Jackson and Mark Hankins
Participants at Energy Alternatives Africa’s Advanced PV and Off-Grid Energy course at the Centre for Wildlife Management Studies in Kenya.
hen planning their “bush camp” training site near Amboseli Game
Park in Kenya, the Centre for Wildlife Management Studies (CWMS) didn’t want to go the genset route. They wanted an energy system that would provide a sustainable model for the area. The surrounding communities use the site as a resource, and they are also almost 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the nearest power line. They were excited about solar energy, as it fits within the broad environmental education objectives that their institution promotes.
Petroleum generators still have a much larger share of the off-grid power market than PV in East Africa. Even where PV or hybrid PV would be cheaper, a majority of the market still goes for a generator. Why?
Sometimes gensets are the better choice. More often, the prospective customer doesn’t have the facts about off-grid PV. Frequently, the “ramshackle” reputation of poorly functioning PV systems (so common in this region) blinds customers who have larger energy needs. Given the lightning-fast development of PV technology, it is understandable that the huge range of stuff available bewilders East African technicians and customers alike. So, despite tens of thousands of well- installed one-panel systems, there is still a lack of manpower to plan and install complex PV systems.
Making the Plan
Rodney Swatton was in charge of developing the bush camp training site for CWMS. He approached Energy Alternatives Africa, Ltd. (EAA) to plan an energy system for the camp. EAA is a consultancy specializing in rural
34 Home Power #75 • February / March 2000
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