Finalist category: Sustainability
Finalist, Sustainability Award, 2021
It all started during my time as a volunteer in Sierra Leone over 30 years ago, I discovered the power of solar energy, it then became my vocation. I spent 12 years working in product design and solar engineering predominantly in developing countries.
Solar PV technology has shown to be a reliable and a long-lasting power source, using a key renewable energy that Africa and most developing countries have a lot of – sunlight. There is an urgent need for solar products that do not have a moulded plastic body and can be manufactured, maintained, upgraded or recycled locally – within the developing country.
Solapodz are a range of such solar powered products; aesthetically pleasing and environmentally friendly, using wood as the core material, recycled batteries and locally sourced solar cells and electronics. I have developed prototype designs and I feel that I am now ready for further production to allow some real market testing and design validation.
The products are intended for, but not limited to, people without access to reliable electricity. Initially they could be configured for lighting and/or USB mobile phone charging, but future designs could incorporate IOT remote sensing and transmission e.g. water well levels, water purity or soil moisture data.
- enable more people to have access to electric light as an alternative to the unhealthy kerosene lamp or reliance on fossil fuel powered generators
- stimulate a local manufacturing and service industry
- reduce dependence on non recyclable plastic components
- help in our fight against climate change by using a renewable energy source
Far too often products are designed with a known limited life and with no serviceable parts. The solar lighting industry is no exception; there is no provision for battery upgrade, component replacement or repair. This has to change.