Off-grid weekly digest

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Swedish lifestyle giant IKEA has developed a solar tent for refugee camps, according to a report on Sun-Connect. The Swedish company has reportedly invested SEK 40 million into the company Better Shelter, which designed and has constructed the first of these tents. The tents themselves have solar panels already installed into the roof that can power the in-built lamp for up to four hours at night. The tents will also have mobile-charging facilities. Testing for the tents was carried out with refugees in Ethiopia and Iraq. Initial plans are already in place for 10,000 of the tens to be shipped to UNCHR for real-world use.

A 1 MW solar-diesel hybrid plant has been installed at a remote mine in Queensland, Australia, according to Cogeneration & Onsite Power Production. The plant, built by Laing O’Rourke has 144 Kwp of solar PV and was supported by the Australian Renewable Energy Association, which provided AUS $860,000 for the project. The plant will supply power to a 350-bed accommodation village.

The Boothbay Register has reported on a pilot project to help power the Maine town. The project, undertaken by GridSolar and reported to have cost $6 million, has taken three years to come to fruition and has seen several of the region’s city building and commercial buildings installing panels and batteries among other solar products. Richard Silkman, founding partner of GridSolar, told the paper that he believed the project had saved the community up to $12 million by replacing the need to install new power lines. He estimated that at least another $50 million dollars could be saved by other potential, similar projects in the area.

The President of Zambia has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Huawei for the construction of communication towers and off-grid power plants, according to the Zambia Daily Mail. There were no financial details on the in-the-pipeline deals reported but it is understood that an additional Memorandum of Understanding has been signed allowing for 10 Zambian students to be trained in ICT.

SEPCO has made the digest twice this week (see Product News below) with its implementation of an off-grid lighting system on the US Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego (second shout-out for San Diego, too – see Notes and Nuggets). Illumination in Focus reported on the 18 watt system’s installation, saying that the base expected to get 60,000 hours of maintenance-free operation.

Inovateus Solar has finished installing a 1 MW off-grid solar plant at the CuisinArt resort in Puerto Rico. The plant is said to save 1.2 million pounds of carbon dioxide annually, according to a company press release.

Nigeria’s Bank of Industry is at an advanced stage of securing license for off-grid solar generation in villages across the country, according to The Daily Times. According to the report, talks have already begun between the Rural Electrification Agency, the Ministry of Power, and the Bank of Industry. A proposed pilot scheme is to be run across six communities in the country. However, no indication has yet been given of timeframe, cost, location, or the technology involved.

Around 60 lakeside and island communities are to receive off-grid solar facilities through a nearly USD $43 million loan facility between the government and the Electricity Company of Ghana, according to reports on GhanaWeb. The off-grid is a fractional part of the loan facility and will come in the second stage of the project.

India’s Power Minister Piyush Goyal was quoted by Business Today talking about the development of power in the growing economic juggernaut. Mr. Goyal predicted that private sector investment over the next four years could equal Rs 300,000 crore. Off-grid development, said Mr. Goyal, will ramp up relative to the limits of the grid.

Product News

SEPCO has launched the SolarViper, a solar-powered and pole-mounted LED light with in-built panel and battery. According to a press release from the manufacturer, the SolarViper can replace up to 1,000-watt metal halide or high-pressure sodium lights and can store enough power for five nights.

SunEdison’s Outdoor Microstation was launched a couple of weeks ago. More details here.

Notes and Nuggets

It does not come more off-grid than a solar space station. The Business Standard has the (theoretical) goods here.

The Independent Record reports on a retired couple in Montana who have chosen to go off-the-grid.

Interesting story in Australia’s Herald Sun about people choosing to live in ‘tiny homes’ off the grid.

The San Diego CityBeat went to see one man who has built his own off-grid system to spite what he sees as ‘as a flawed and monopolistic system’.

In Auto Focus, Willem Dafoe’s character says, "I can wire anything." It seems solar is moving in the same direction: in San Francisco, there are even portable solar-powered toilets.

The non-profit Star Island Corporation is inviting people to its ‘Going Green’ presentation, which will focus on the New Hampshire island’s new off-grid array. Seacost Online has all the details.