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After 11 long years of waiting for electricity Mfundiso Mabana is a happy man thanks to DC microgrid technology

DC MICROGRID TECHNOLOGY IS THE ANSWER

On Wednesday 16 November a miracle happened in Sedgefield. Not a major, thunder-flashing miracle that would make national headlines, in fact, many folks might not consider it a miracle at all.  But it was to Goodman Mbana and his family.

It was the miracle of light.

A large portion of the residents of Smutsville Sizamile has been desperately waiting for electrification for many years. Some have even embarked on service delivery marches, not asking for better service, but for ANY service at all.  When the sun goes down they have to rely on the dull glow of paraffin lamps or candles, and watching TV is obviously not an option. This aside from the sharing of toilets between several families and have no direct access to water.

Specialized Solar Systems (SSS), being a local company in George, has for a period of six months been co-operating with a Sedgefield based NGO called SANCO. The purpose has been to demonstrate that a complete home electrification system that is powered by alternative energy, can be installed in a matter of minutes, and provides a long-term solution. A solar panel and a battery drive what is called the DC Microgrid system that provides lights and a cell phone charger- this is the basic system. What distinguishes this system from others is that it has the ability to accommodate additional appliances such as a TV and DVD, a laptop charger, and even a fridge if solar and battery capacity is also extended. All these appliances can easily plug into the basic system, and they all operate on a 12volt current.

This means that nobody will be endangered or shocked by the system that is ideally suited for installation at informal settlements. Indeed this DC Microgrid system was donated and installed last year, as reported in the local Sedgefield Edge of 16 November – at the home of local Fundiso Mbana. The purpose of the installation was to verify that the DC Microgrid could indeed live up to its claims, which it indeed has done! We had a trouble-free operation, replaced one bulb, and have a happy customer.

On Friday 30 Mar2012, an open day meeting was held with the Sedgefield residents as advertised in the Edge(Please view all editorial tabs), to invite any employers or sponsors to view a sample DC Microgrid with all its capabilities, with the view of sponsoring or donating such a system for their employees.

The progress of this project can be summarised as follows:

  1. The DC Microgrid is now a well proven sustainable solution for informal settlements. It is a viable energization solution to grid failed rural, urban and peri-urban communities in South Africa, Africa and even the rest of the world.
  2. Fundiso and many others regard the DC microgrid systems an ideal easy to install solution that takes only 45 minutes to set up.
  3. The public of Sedgefield have come out in support of the idea and would like to see this plan put to action now, instead of waiting another 3-4 years(who knows) for grid electrification. Currently, the residents have been PROMISED electrification and basic services for 11 years now.
  4. The residents of Sedgefield that are also ratepayers, do not think it is fair to pay their taxes and then fund services again personally. They believe this job should be done by the local municipality – and it should happen immediately.
  5. The fact that Specialized Solar Systems have developed a pre-paid metering and other management control option on their DC microgrid systems would facilitate a return on investment on these systems, makes a community roll-out even more feasible.
  6. The Sedgefield community are now desperate for electrification and have explored all possible avenues to achieve this, even asking for public donations!

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