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FAQ
ImpactSite/Solartainer

ImactSites are locations where we collaborate with local communities in order to jump-start sustainable development through innovative energy technologies. Our objective is not only to provide electricity but also to promote the applications based on it. These include water treatment, facilitating cold chains, internet access, energy-efficient appliances, modern equipment for businesses and the fostering of education. Achieving these targets, however, requires the existence or development of the necessary infrastructure in the villages. For us, this means operating a school, a hospital and small businesses. With our mobile solar plant, we generate clean electricity where it is needed most: in village communities that are far off the central power grid. We construct state-of-the-art mini-grids to give people access to the generated energy and provide sustainable and modern devices to use it efficiently. These components make our system what it is – a holistic and clean energy solution – and turns the villages into ImpactSites.

A mini-grid, sometimes referred to as a microgrid or isolated grid, is a system that is remote from a large grid, includes small-scale power generation (10 kW to 10 MW) and serves a limited number of users on a distribution grid. It can be operated independently of national electricity transmission grids (Mini-Grid Policy Toolkit, 2014). Africa GreenTec builds mini-grids of the latest generation and integrates them with smart meters, enableing them to be controlled intelligently.

The first step is to carefully assess a village for its eligibility to receive electrification. There is a host of villages that either apply for electrification themselves, are recommended to us by an organisation or that we identify and approach proactively based on data analysis. The pre-selection process focuses on the population size, the local economy, the geographical location, road access and whether the village is connected to the electricity grid or how far removed it is. If these criteria are met, we go into detail about factors such as the distance between the houses, the number and types of local businesses, economic particularities and the willingness of the local community to support us in the process of their electrification.

We check the conditions on location and inform the villagers on the safe and efficient use of electricity and our pricing system in public meetings and individual dialogues, and make a special effort to talk to business owners about the possibilities of increasing productivity with electricity. Once it has been determined which components of the ImpactSite are to be implemented in the village, we manufacture them and organize transport to the village. Meanwhile, we set up the power grid and install domestic access on location, put together a local team to manage and safeguard the ImpactSite and train the new employees.

Wir überprüfen die Gegebenheiten vor Ort, sensibilisieren die Dorfbewohner in Versammlungen und Einzelgesprächen über die sichere und effiziente Stromnutzung und unser Tarifsystem und sprechen vor allem mit Gewerbetreibenden über die Möglichkeiten zur produktiven Arbeit mit Strom. Steht fest, welche Komponenten der ImpactSite in dem Dorf zur Verwendung kommen, fertigen wir diese und organisieren den Transport ins Dorf. Parallel errichten wir das Stromnetz und realisieren die Hausinstallationen, stellen ein lokales Team für die Verwaltung und Absicherung der ImpactSite zusammen und schulen die neuen Mitarbeiter.

Wenn der Solartainer unter großer Begeisterung der Dorfbewohner eintrifft, wird er mit Hilfe des ganzen Dorfes innerhalb kürzester Zeit aufgebaut und mit dem Mini Grid vernetzt. Ist der Aufbau abgeschlossen und wird zum ersten Mal das Licht angeschaltet, gibt es immer große Freudentänze und Dorffeste, welche die ganze Nacht über andauern.
Das lokal aufgebaute Team übernimmt mit unserer Unterstützung den operativen Betrieb vor Ort und den weiteren Vertrieb der Stromtarife sowie die Kundenbetreuung. Wir stehen mit ihnen stets über Satellit und Internet in Kontakt und können die ImpactSite auch von Deutschland aus rund um die Uhr fernwarten.

When the Solartainer finally arrives amid great excitement from the villagers, it is swiftly assembled with help from the entire village and hooked up to the mini-grid. Once the set-up is complete and the lights are turned on for the first time, the whole community breaks out into celebration with dancing usually lasting through the night.

With our support, the locally established team then takes over local operations and continues the distribution of the electricity plans as well as the customer support. We are in continuous contact with them via satellite and the internet and can also maintain the ImpactSite remotely from Germany at all times.

The Solartainer® is a mobile solar power plant that is developed and produced by Africa GreenTec. The Solartainer forms the heart of our ImpactSite. In addition to generating electricity, the plant can also store electricity, provide internet access over Wi-Fi and be upgraded with a water treatment system. The current standard version has an output of up to 50 kWp and is fitted with a 67 kWh lithium-ion power storage.

The container design has many significant advantages for the use in the Global South. Thanks to its portability, the Solartainer can be delivered to almost any destination in the world. It can be assembled and commissioned directly on site, as all components are integrated in the container. An experienced team will usually install each of our models within 48 hours. Moreover, all components are protected from external influences and damage within the container. Thanks to the mobility of the structure, the ground surface only has to be leased rather than purchased, unlike with a fixed installation built on solid foundations. Mobile solar power plants such as the Solartainer can also be pledged as collateral for financing.

Africa GreenTec AG (Inc.) sells the equipment to operator agencies, NGOs or companies. Our subsidiaries in the individual countries themselves can also act as operators and thus sell electricity.

Our Solartainers® are equipped with a remote maintenance system. This enables us to continuously monitor all system-relevant parameters and, if necessary, carry out an error/problem search from Germany. As a basic rule, we always have a trained local technician at every ImpactSite that we operate. If a major problem occurs, we can send a technician from the nearest service centre with spare parts to assist.

The solar panels used for the Solartainer® are designed to withstand extreme environmental conditions and mechanical stress and are therefore resistant to sand, dust and heat. All other technical components are protected from environmental influences inside the Solartainer®. Wind speeds of over 100 km/h or indirect lightning strikes are no problem, even with the panels fully extended. If the current location is no longer suitable, for example because the village is hooked up to the national power grid, we can easily relocate the Solartainer thanks to its mobile design.

The Solartainer® Amali can generate up to 194 kWh of electrical power every day and 70.8 MWh per year. This represents the potential energy that can be generated by the photovoltaic modules during the day. Our mini-grid only generates as much energy through the photovoltaic panels as is consumed or stored by the villagers and the battery. These figures depend on various factors (location, irradiation angle, performance ratio etc.) and were determined in a simulation by TÜV Rheinland Energy GmbH for the Djoliba site in Mali.

Transport size:

  • Dimensions of a 40′ standard container
  • Length: 12.19 m
  • Width: 2.44 mHeight: 2.59 m

 

Operational size:

  • Surface dimensions: 327.02 m²​
  • Length: 39.66 m
  • Width: 9.72 m
  • Height: 3.92 m
The Solartainer® Amali weighs 16 tons, which is about four times the weight of a standard international freight container with the same dimensions.
Aktuell gibt es kaum bzw. keinen Abfall der wesentlichen Komponenten. Für das Currently there is little or no waste from the main components. Our partner Tesvolt guarantees the return and sustainable recycling of the batteries (https://www.tesvolt.com/de/lithium-batterien.html). Recycling of the other components is also an integral part of our approach. We have already developed a concept which takes into account the legal framework (ElektroG) and regulates the return and proper disposal of the materials.
The electricity generated in the Solartainer® is delivered to the customers through the three-phase low-voltage power line of the mini-grid. It works on the same principle as in Germany, where electricity from power plants and photovoltaic systems reaches the user via the power grid. The difference in mini-grids being, of course, the smaller dimensions. Moreover, the smart meters allow us to control and monitor the individual connections.
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