Solar-Powered STEM Centers in Africa
Lack of electricity, or frequent interruption of electricity, are big challenges faced by STEMpower’s South Sudanese and Ethiopian STEM training centers. When there is no power, students cannot perform their hands-on lab activities. Installing diesel generators is a bad option for us. The world’s high fuel prices are discouraging, and fuel is scarce in the more remote regions for which STEMpower has not forgotten. As an unwavering practitioner of clean power, we have invested heavily in renewable solar power. Our solutions can even provide more capability than available from typical electricity grids.
Let’s examine STEMpower’s solar generation at the Foka STEM center located in the Ethiopian city of Bishoftu, 45 km south of the nation's capital, Addis Ababa. That site has been equipped with a 10kW solar power supply. More than merely a standby power supply during a power outage, that site has also become a national training lab for engineering students, covering theory, installation techniques, parameter settings, and maintenance.
10kW Solar Power system at Foka STEM center
Four more of our Ethiopian STEM centers (Bahir Dar, Gondar, Ethiopian Academy of Sciences, and Samara) are similarly being equipped as solar power training centers. Why a total of 5 STEM Centers? Because we calculated how many fit into an incoming shipping container, for true maximum efficiency.
On the other hand, all of STEMpower’s 17 South Sudanese STEM Centers operate in an off-grid country! We chose 15 kW as the standard solar power configuration for 14 of our South Sudanese STEM Centers. Such capacity provides a small campus with night-time lighting, in addition to powering everything in the labs.
14 (of 17) STEM centers utilize the 15-kW solar power standard configuration installed on their premises. A 15th site (Rumbek University) has a 67 kW capacity to power its three campuses.
15kW Solar Power System at Torit TVET STEM Center
But 2 of our 17 South Sudan installs have an even larger capability:
· Grinti Science & Technology Academy STEM Center (25 kW).
· Juba University STEM & Vocational Center (150 kW).
At those sites, our solar power systems generate industrial 3-phase electric power, powerful enough to weld steel buildings together!
Industrial 3-phase Solar Powered Welding at Juba University STEM Center
Moreover, Juba University STEM Center’s large solar power generator is a leading participant of Juba city’s new Microgrid, the first of its kind in South Sudan. In a Microgrid, the best available of multiple electric power sources is automatically chosen to be the source of electricity. An example of such flexibility is at night after the primary site’s solar storage batteries have depleted, then power is automatically drawn from a secondary site’s storage batteries.
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