Upcoming project: Conservation Lower Zambezi
Following the success of the micro grid we installed at Sioma High School last year, we are currently working on our second solar-powered micro grid in Zambia!
We are currently installing a 9kW system at Conservation Lower Zambezi (CLZ), an education center in the wildlife-rich Lower Zambezi Area of Zambia, which provides environmental protection and awareness training for all the schools in the region as well as training for potential safari and tour guides. In addition to providing environmental education to local children and villagers, CLZ helps patrol the Lower Zambezi National Park to protect wildlife from poachers, and supports the Zambian Wildlife Authority in its efforts to reduce human/wildlife conflict in the heavily game-populated area.
CLZ has agreed to serve as our local partner in the Chiawa Game Management Area, helping us identify additional schools to provision with solar micro grids, and handling maintenance and operation functions on behalf of Empowered by Light.
Our projects for the remainder of 2015
With the help of The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, The Clif Family Foundation, Sungevity, Zanaco and the Rex Foundation, as well as the generous support of many individual donors, we have approved the building of a third micro grid in Zambia shortly after the system at Conservation Lower Zambezi is up and running.
The solar micro grid we plan to build at the Mugurameno Basic School in the Lower Zambezi Area will test our new design of micro grid, which will be part donation, part social enterprise.
To explain further, Mugurameno serves close to 600 students, with five teacher houses on campus and more than 60 homes situated nearby. Under the proposed hybrid model, the school will receive free electricity, and Empowered by Light will sell the excess power to villagers in the surrounding area to power their homes and businesses, helping us offset the overall cost of the system.
Working with solar installer Standard Microgrid, EBL has identified several schools in this region which would be excellent candidates for this type of hybrid system, and with sufficient funding, we will build the second of this new design at another school before the end of this year.
We strongly believe this more sustainable model will be the focus of our work from now into the future.
Sioma High School
The 106-panel photo-voltaic array with backup batter storage continues to work smoothly and provide clean, quiet electric power to 100 percent of the Sioma campus, including seven classrooms, four dormitories, kitchen and dining halls and the police office.
We recently received word from the Ministry of Education for Zambia that the micro grid is providing real, tangible benefits to the students at Sioma, including improved safety and hygiene on campus, and that the overall exam pass rate has jumped 89% since we commissioned the micro grid! Read more here.
In additional to saving the school as much as $21,000 each year in diesel costs, our solar micro grid has prevented the manufacture and release of 86,000 lbs of CO2 into the air each year.