Thirty-two million Kenyans, approximately 85 percent of the country’s total population, live without access to grid electricity. Living without reliable power makes life extremely difficult for those in rural communities. Families must use car batteries or kerosene lamps just to have light or to power simple electronic devices. Batteries are expensive, and only a temporary fix, and kerosene lamps pollute indoor air, creating dangerous conditions in the home.
With the help of NGOs and community groups around the world, access:collective is working to co-create open source energy solutions that make sense to end users in East Africa. Currently, access:energy is piloting low-cost electricity services for rural Kenya by helping local technicians build and install village-scale solar and wind energy systems.
“We treat communities in East Africa as co-producers and our organisation is experienced in building local capacity, connecting together business owners, manufacturers, and end-users,” reads the access:energy website.
The Night Heron Wind Turbine, written up recently on Inhabitat, is the latest development from access:energy. The turbines are assembled on site by local manufacturing talent using locally sourced materials. This ensures that repairs can be made easily if the need arises. According to access:energy, each Night Heron can provide electricity for up to 50 rural homes at half to one-third the cost of solar panels.
Electricity from the turbine is stored in a battery bank for use when the wind is not blowing. The turbines can be expanded in modular arrays to meet the energy needs of small communities or commercial clients. The power produced by these arrays can be used to provide refrigeration services to dairy farmers, charge batteries and lamps for the neighborhood, or simply run a small business like a barber shop. This gives those with limited choices for income the opportunity to become successful entrepreneurs without going into massive amounts of debt.