A solar system and battery bank was installed in the rural community Sichem in Togo to overcome power failures and to charge a mobile power bank that provides surrounding villages with additional energy to charge mobile phones or lamps in cooperation with organisation Togo Debout.

Situation

Togo Debout is an organisation that supports sustainable development projects in Togo within the following domains: health, welfare, education and training and rural development. They invited business engineer student Lore Van Welde to come to Sichem in Togo for six weeks as part of her master thesis to question the local community about their energy needs and habits. Based on this survey and a financial analysis Lore developed a business model for the innovative local energy production and storage system. This provided engineering students Daan Droogmans en Kaz Puttenaers with the necessary information to develop and implement a complete energy system.

Sichem is a rural community, situated approximately 20 kilometres east of the capital Lomé. The village has a limited electricity grid, but it often suffers from power failures that can last several hours. The electricity is used to prepare or process food, to pump up water from a water well or for small local businesses such as a sewing workshop and a tea dryer. Besides that the community organises several activities to contribute to the further development of the surrounding villages, but is forced to cancel or reschedule these activities due to the power failures. The surrounding villages have no direct access to electricity, so have to walk far to family or stores and pay quite a lot to charge their lamps and mobile phones. Not only a solution needed to be found to overcome the power failures, but also additional energy had to be provided for the villages without electricity grid.

Solar system and power banks

To overcome the power failures, engineering students Kaz Puttenaers en Daan Droogmans developed and implemented a solar system consisting of six solar panels and a battery bank that was connected to the local electricity grid. Energy produced during the day can take care of the daytime consumption and charge the batteries when there is no power failure. To provide the surrounding villages with energy, a mobile power bank was built. This power bank can be charged by the electricity grid when there are no power failures and can be transported to the surrounding villages. Lore developed a business model for these power banks to ensure enough motivation for Sichem for the long term usage and maintenance of the entire energy installation. To use the power banks the villagers have to contribute a small amount of money that can be used when the installation breaks down or to do necessary maintenance.