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New solar energy project targets small entrepreneurs in Kenya

Kisumu -- Renewable energy company Solar Fire Concentration is currently testing a new solar technology in the Western part of Kenya, through its GoSol.org project.

The company has initiated and supported the building of two solar concentrators in Kisumu with the support of its new founding sponsor Wärtsilä - a global provider of complete life-cycle marine & energy solutions and services. The project is also receiving support from World Vision. 

Speaking in Kisumu at the launch of the project, GoSol.org Chief Executive Officer Eva Wissenz said the results of the GoSol.org project pilot have been successful and would be vital in taming global climate change and its devastating effects.

“Global warming and its devastating effects on agriculture and food production can be seen in Kenya today. Our low cost technology can be a part of the solution to prevent climate change,” she said. 

The company has initiated and supported the building of two solar concentrators in Kisumu with reportedly positive impact on businesses, especially in peanut and bakery businesses. 

“The units were made by local artisans using available materials in the region. 10 months later, the technology is well adopted and the impact is real,” Ms. Wissenz said.

“A peanut butter workshop Yier Ngima in Karemo has been producing organic peanut butter with the concentrators. They have reported reduced charcoal costs by 100% during sunny season. Also the negative side effects of charcoal use have been removed; the peanut butter tastes better and the workers are no longer exposed to toxic fumes,” Ms Wissenz added.

The second pilot unit, Koptigei bakery in Tinderet, has recorded similar success, reducing operating costs and making huge savings in monthly electricity cost. In addition the business is no longer affected by the unpredictable electricity blackouts.

The technology uses locally available materials, such as steel and mirrors. The idea of the pattern is to concentrate sunlight into one focus point and create enormous heat (up to 300°C). The mirror ray can be scaled and adapted to perform almost any task powered by heat. The solar concentrators can be used for example to bake bread, roast groundnut, boil water, fry food, or dehydrate vegetables, fruit or fish. At the industrial level the technology can also power steam engines to grind grain, pump water or turn machinery.

“The technology is simple and efficient and the maintenance is uncomplicated. It’s the beginning of a big change in renewable energy for SME’s, says Wissenz.

GoSol.org is part of World Vision Finland’s Weconomy innovation program, which brings together companies and communities in areas where World Vision works. In Kenya the partner is World Vision Kenya.

“The aim of Weconomy program is that both companies and communities learn from each other. They co-create products or services that benefit the people and at the same time enable sustainable new businesses for the companies, says Maija Seppälä, Programme Advisor for World Vision Finland.

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