I am happy to share one final update from Lesotho in this calendar year! For this report I would like to focus on the progress at Ha Makebe, Lesotho's very first commercial minigrid which Onepower has been operating since earlier this year.
To date I am happy to report that the minigrid has so far delivered almost 1MWh of energy to the pilot customers in Ha Makebe with operational uptime of 98% - numbers we are very proud of for a unique first-time system. In addition, we brought the 8th customer online in December! It has been exciting so far to interact with the customers, see how they are using the electricity, and watch my team grow and take ownership of this achievement and responsibility.
We are also excited to announce that Onepower is the preferred bidder for 8 minigrid sites to be supported by a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) initaitive for minigrid development in Lesotho. We hosted their Investment Team at Ha Makebe earlier this month (photo below), and we are very positive about the upcoming negotiation phase and being involved in this effort!
Thank you again for all of your ongoing support and interest! I hope that everyone has had a wonderful year of 2019, and sending you all wishes for happy holidays and a happy new year.
Hello again there folks,
Short update from Lesotho to catch you all up! We're at an exciting stage with our projects, in productive conversations with the stakeholders and government here in Lesotho to get permits and contracts in place: holding community meetings (you'll see one in the photos), completing environmental assessments, and designing energy systems.
We also had a team of fantastic Energy Access Fellows with us in Lesotho for the past several months: Mamaswatsi, Ruitian, Rohan, and Bahla. Our Fulbright Fellow Erika also wrapped up her time and project with us. Attached is a photo of a team dinner while everyone was still in town.
Mamaswatsi and Ruitian, working with team members Makoanyane and Kubutu, conducted surveys at several communities throughout Lesotho - communities identified to be part of an upcoming UNDP project to build 10 minigrids across the country. They spent some cold nights up in the highlights to collect data on the people, buildings, and environments making up some of these communities. Back in Maseru Rohan put his economics studies to work upgrading Onepower's minigrid design tool to better model the range of funding options that we foresee in the future. Bahla, an engineer starting graduate school this September, prototyped new capabilities for Onepower's smart meters, working toward the first version that can be used for energy delivery in addition to energy monitoring.
Erika wrapped up a very productive 9 months of studying Productive Uses of Electricity (PUE) - identifying ways that Onepower can support development of businesses and other productive activities in the communities we serve. As part of this work she surveyed communities to find out what types of businesses individuals would like to start - everything from butcheries to piggeries to internet cafes - as well as understanding what types of equipment these businesses would need. This is critical in developing pipelines for small business loans and other support structures for these would-be entrepreneurs.
And we've been making upgrades to the new space all along the way - including having our lathe delivered from our old partner's facility in Bethel to Ha Thetsane (picture here for you all to see).
Wishing you all a pleasant September!
Hello again from Lesotho!
It's been three months now of operations at the Ha Makebe minigrid, and things are going well. We've been learning a lot (including a few late-night trips out to check meters before we realized that sometimes rain clouds just interferes with communications!), and the community containues to be excited about the service. Our 8 customers are consistently using power, reloading their prepay accounts, and sending us good feedback. Our team is thrilled watching this run, and we are hard at work with the final permitting to start construction for service to the rest of the community.
In other exciting news, Onepower moved to our recently-renovated Headquarters, a factory shell managed by the Leostho National Development Corporation (LNDC), the Lesotho government agency whose mission is to foster domestic economic and industrial growth. We are in the early stages of outfitting the offices, setting up the electronics (electricity meters) manufacturing, setting up the machine shop, etc. - but it is already feeling and looking like our new home.
A few pictures below - those of you who have been following along for some years may recognize the aluminum legs on our conference table as parts we used in a manufacturing frame for an early design of our STG solar concentrator. It's truly unique to OnePower and gives character to the place where we invite partners to meetings.
The development of the 20MW Project is still progressing - right now we are on track to start construction in late 2019 or early 2020, and you will all be hearing more about that as soon as we have news and pictures to share!
Hoping that everyone is having a healthy and prosperous 2019 so far, and thank you again for your continued interest and support.
Exciting news for everyone this month!
This update is going to be brief in words because I want to let the photographs speak for themselves. Earlier this month our team - led by R&D Engineer Jordan Stephens and >10-year STG veteran Makoanyane Khakanyo - finished the commissioning process and brought our 8 test customers online at Ha Makebe! This is an incredible achievement, following on a long road of hard work, and I an intensely proud to say that this month OnePower became the very first private company to sell electricity to customers in Lesotho. You will see in the photos just a few examples of the families and community our minigrid is serving at Ha Makebe.
Of course "what comes next?" is always on our minds, and we are hard at work with both funders and the Lesotho Department of Energy getting the funding and permitting in place to expand the pilot minigrid to the rest of the Ha Makebe community. Our full application for the concession was submitted a few weeks ago, and I look forward to bringing you more exciting news on this front in the next update!
For those of you interested in more photos, please also check out the newly launched website for OnePower - Lesotho's very first Independent Power Producer, founded and spun-out from STG's long years of work in Lesotho! 1pwrafrica.com
Wishing all of you the very best in 2019.
Hi Everyone - I just wanted to share excerpts from a letter to our dedicated staff in Lesotho and express gratitude for all the support that enabled us to make 2018 our best year yet!
Dear 1PWR team,
Happy holidays and seasons greetings! I hope you are all relaxing with family and friends, enjoying the time off and recharging batteries for an exciting 2019 ahead.
Looking back, we came a long way in 2018 and I wanted to share a few highlights of what we achieved due to your hard work and perseverance:
The list could go on and on: from the little ways we improved our administrative processes to running a major tender process for disbursement of AfDB funds, we checked off tasks large and small from our to do list. We wrote countless letters, SOPs and contracts; developed tablet apps to digitize our site surveys; crafted a new website (going live soon!), ported legacy uGrid code into the latest Python build, negotiated a compensation package with Neo 1 landowners in Mafeteng; developed blueprints for an IEC compliant PV tracker design; and throughout everything tirelessly lobbied the Lesotho government to buy into our initiatives – and so on and so forth! All year long there were battles to be fought and problems to be solved, and we survived and thrived because you all rose to the challenge.
It was never easy and let’s be honest - 2019 won’t be easy either, but I am confident that the list of achievements we look back on a year from now will be every bit as impressive as what you made happen in 2018. As long as we continue to believe in ourselves and each other, this team can realize our shared dream of bringing solar electricity to rural communities, starting in 2019 in Lesotho and pioneering new regions for decades to come.
Wishing you all a happy new year in 2019! Best,
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