Marcel installs electricity monitoring at a clinic
The months fly, hard to believe it has already been three months since our last update. But much news to share from Lesotho, as always!
Most exciting is the recruitment of a number of new team members in Lesotho since February, including installation of our first full-time Project Manager in Maseru in March! Tamer, who completed his master's degree at Harvard in 2014, had been working with STG in the USA since last June but was excited to gain some on-the-ground experience in solar research so was promoted to Team Leader in Lesotho. So far he has been doing a fantastic job, and it is has been great to find someone willing to take on the challenges of this role.
Along with this promotion, we also hired a new Mechanical Engineering Technician and have two new interns working with us, all young and enthusiastic Basotho with technical interests and the drive to have an impact on the challenges they see facing their country.
Together, the Lesotho-based team has been tackling some big challenges, including designing and building out the production-line equipment for our newest version of solar collector. They have been working from a computer-based model of the new collector to envision the molds and jigs required to create the correct shapes, build lists of the components required and determine the most efficient way to create each component, and thinking about how to most efficiently complete assembly of all of the sub-components. We are working toward a first assembly of the new design by early fall, which will be unveiled at the Solar Paces 2015 Conference in Cape Town!
At the same time, we continue to push forward our work in rural energy system design, and one of the biggest challenges here is determining what size system will be needed for a place that currently has no access to electricity. Writing out a list of what might be plugged in at the clinic and in the houses has been shown to be relatively unreliable (since you don't know how many hours each day people will use each item) - we at STG instead believe that there is much to be learned from how villages, clinics, and schools connected up to the national grid are using electricity! We have thus started a systematic effort in energy monitoring, installing wireless (cell phone communications) electricity monitoring stations at a number of clinics and communities around Lesotho to learn what the daily pattern and volume of electricity consumption actually is. From this data we will be able to more accurately estimate the needs of rural communities, allowing the government to optimize sizing for community systems and therefore ensure electricity availability while also maximizing the number of communities that can be reached with limited funding.
Of course still activity going on in many other directions, including the new manufacturing facility, working with the Government of Lesotho to push forward their vision for (and then implementation of) rural electrification using optimized solar minigrids, and much more. We are working to keep the website up to date so that you can visit there any time to keep abreast of our activities.
Thank you again for all of your continued support, and we look forward to more exciting developments during the rest of this year!
STG Interns install a weather station at a clinic
Lesotho Team: Tamer, Marcel, Maks, Lefu, Kubutu