Empowering Rural Electrification With Solar Funding

Rural community in developing countries have no access to modern forms of energy. The world bank funding through the Governments and through local village banks forms a very good network of reaching the people who need the loans to purchase renewable energy systems.

Despite advancement in technology and reduction of the cost of solar systems cost per watt peak, the rural communitys disposable income would not let them purchase these systems. On the other hand renewable energy vending companies did not have capacity to loan out systems to their customers because of the limited cash flow broblems these companies face. These companies also do not have loan recovery mechanism in place to ensure proper payment for the installed systems. So the result was that the rural electrification was not possible.

Now the people of the rural community can go to their local banks or village micro credit banks, apply for a solar loan and work out payment plans suitable to their individual incomes, which can be easily verified by the staffs of the microfinance institutions. Then the microfinance institution will sign an aggrement with the Governments rural electrification agency (REA) and the vending company. The microfinance institution will place an order with the vending company for the total number of systems required by its members. And the vending company will go ahead to supply and install solar systems for the identified customers.

Roles of the 3 parties

1. REA, to ensure quality of the system supplied by the vendor and to do an energy audit on each system and to give the government subsday on successful compleetion of the job to the vending company.
2. SACCO, to identify the end user customer who needs a solar system, acertain their capacity to pay the loan, extend the loan and ensure they receive a quality solar system. To idendify suitable solar vending companies.
3. Solar vending company, to ensure quality supply of solar system, install it and see it is in proper working condition and to recover payment from the saccos and subsdy from the governmet after successful installation.

The rural community will be serviced with the solar home systems (SHS). But each of the SACCO can have one off grid renewable Village power supply system, which can supply the whole village.

The following advantages can be got from such a system.

1. Community projects like water pumping, community hall, tele-center, health clinics, Internet café etc.
2. Surplus power is sold to the national grid if the renewable energy system is near the grid.
3. Better security for the power supply
4. Small factory and processing equipment for the benefit of the village and as a money generation activity.
5. Bio fuel generator, bio fuel cooking stove. Lantern and making of soap from glycerol will serve as a stimulus for people to grow Jatropha as a cash bio fuel crop.

Bio-fuel production – Using Jatropha The Next Generation sustainable fuel.

What is bio-Diesel?

AS the volatile Middle East continues to affect global oil supply, countries like Uganda are chocking on heavy oil import costs. Crude fossil oil prices touched $100 this combines with the erratic and increasing dollar rate (at last month high dollar rate this translates to Sh230, 000) per barrel this year and are expected to reach the $150 (Sh345, 000) mark in two years.

The ever-increasing and erratic oil prices and a volatile dollar are driving many countries to search for alternatives of achieving energy independence. This has intensified research and boosted development of bio fuels as the most reliable energy alternative.

Production of bio-diesel from Jatropha Carcus, commonly known as ‘Ekiloowa, has many advantages. Ekiloowa is well known in Uganda and is commonly used as a support for vanilla vines and sometimes as a hedge.
Jatropha, a drought- resistant perennial crop with an over 40 – year life span, is a member of the Europhobiaceace family. Its seeds can yield about 37% non-edible oil.

One kilogram of the seeds produces 200ml of oil. Every tree can bear one-and-a half kilogrammes of seeds annually in the beginning and as it grows it can produce up to 6kgs. On a land of 1acre you can plant 1000 jatropha trees spaces at 2mts interval.

The global bio-diesel market is estimated to reach 37 billion gallons by 2016, growing at an average annual rate of 42%.

Lankveld said developing bio-fuels offers the most immediate and viable response to emerging economies in the Tropics to produce and supply the global energy market and reduce carbon dioxide emissions as part of the battle against climate change.

Our company has set up a demonstration project on the shores of Lake Victoria. It will supply renewable energy products and process biofuel.

The company will not be relying on new plantations to source its raw material. Instead it will start by buying up Jatropha nuts already available from the existing plants This year It intends to collect about 10,000 Kgs of the seed from vanilla farmers in the districts of Mukono, Kayunga, Jinja, Iganga, Kamuli and Bugiri, from which it expect to extract 3,300 litters of oil… The company will also plant about 40 hectares (about 60,000 trees) of jatropha at a new land farm we acquired.

The project will also be giving farmers high quality jatropha seeds to increase crop output for the future. Rather than setting up large plantations, the venture is promoting Jatropha as a means of diversification for farmers, encouraging its integration alongside millet, sorghum or maize and reviving those who had abandoned it because of the disappointments in the vanilla market and using it as fencing material for their farms.

We believe in small-scale, decentralized bio-diesel processing plants, where there is local production of jatropha nuts to minimize transport. We also believe that selling of plant oil stoves will encourage the local farmers to grow jatropha and other oil crops primarily as a source of fuel for their kitchen cooking and later as a commercial cash crop venture. we will also sell to them small oil hand mills so that they can extract their own oil for domestic use.

The first test runs of Uganda electronics and computer industry ltd, small-scale off grid renewable energy and biodiesel plants will take place in November 2010. However starting October we are running sensitization seminars in 3 districts, collecting seeds, selling stoves and processing oil.

The UN special reporter on the right to food recently recommended jatropha as a bio-fuels crop for developing countries. Jatropha was recommended because of its high inedible oil content, gestation period and ability to grow on degraded soils.

There is need for developing countries to invest in bio-fuels production because with climate change, the world’s energy polices is bound to change for the worst.

Uganda can excel in bio- diesel production since the majority of the people derive their incomes from agriculture. Jatropha offers enormous potential to alleviate poverty and improve health. A farmer can earn up to $250 (sh427, 500) annually from a 1km hedge of jatropha.

Long Term Potential

Speaking about the long-term potential of bio-diesel, the realities of the bio-diesel markets, a successful bio-diesel business plan begins with an effective feedstock strategy from which process design flows. To make bio-diesel a long term business opportunity attention must be paid to the critical issue of availability of right feedstock at right cost.

Jatropha will be a vast source of bio-fuel and a key to reducing our dependence on fossil fuel. Jatropha can bring significant environment benefits. It can replace jet fuel and fossil fuel from petroleum companies without interfering with food crops or leading to clearing of forests. The good thing about jatropha is that you are producing a tree shrub that lives for a long time and does its job. Producing oil while it also sequesters lots of carbon from the atmosphere. Jatropha is a multipurpose crop to alleviate soil degradation, desertification and deforestation, which can be used for bio-energy to replace diesel, cooking fuel wood and for soap production and climatic protection and hence deserves special attention. Jatropha can help increase rural incomes, self-sustainability and alleviate poverty.

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