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Ashden Awards Case Study | Solar Energy Foundation (SEF), Ethiopia | Summary

Case study summary Solar Energy Foundation (SEF), Ethiopia

The Solar Energy Foundations 2009 Ashden Award recognised the work it had done to bring affordable lighting to communities in Ethiopia through the use of solar home systems.
In Ethiopia, the main sources of light in rural homes and small businesses are dim kerosene lamps and candles, which emit fumes and can lead to health problems. The Solar Energy Foundation has developed small photovoltaic (PV) solar-home systems (SHS) to replace kerosene lamps and supply electricity for lighting and small appliances. The village of Ream chose solar electrification in preference to a diesel generator. Basic SHS includes 10 Wp PV module, 18 Ah battery, charge controller and up to four LED lights. Most components are imported and assembled in Ethiopia. International Solar School established to train solar technicians in installation, maintenance and business skills, with four more Solar Centres set up in other parts of Ethiopia. Households in Rema pay about US$1 per month, to cover maintenance and replacement of parts. Charge-controller can be disabled remotely if fees not paid. 2,100 SHS installed to date in Rema and nearby areas. Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions has been about 650 tonnes/year CO2 . Solar lighting avoids eye irritation from kerosene smoke, and the risk of burns and house fires. Students now able to work at home in the evenings. Evening classes have been set up to improve adult literacy. Better light allows shops and craft-workers to work later and increase their income. PV-powered water pump and well also provided in Rema, supplying drinking water for a small charge. Previously there was a two hour walk to collect drinking water.

2009 Ashden Award

Ethiopia statistics 2006/7


GDP: US$319/year per person CO2 emission: 0.1 tonnes/year per person 78% of people live on less than US$2/day 85% of people lack grid electricity Location

The solar light is like gold. Before, using firewood and kerosene, Id have to blow my nose all the time because the gas was suffocating me. But now I live in peace and Im happy. Abere Kassegn

The Solar Energy Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation established in Germany in 2003. In 2008 it had 35 staff and an annual turnover of about US$1.2 million Funding is mainly through grants and donated profits from an associated company.

A tailor can now work in the cool of the evening with solar-powered lights.

Contact The Solar Energy Foundation (Stiftung Solarenergie) Samson Tsegaye
Document last updated December 2009

Ashden Awards Case Study | Solar Energy Foundation (SEF), Ethiopia

Case study Solar Energy Foundation (SEF), Ethiopia

Background In Ethiopia reliable electricity supplies are unavailable to many rural and semi-urban dwellers. The main sources of light in homes and small businesses are kerosene lamps and candles. These emit fumes which can lead to eye and health problems for the users, and the low levels of light cause eye strain. The Solar Energy Foundation developed high-quality solar-home-systems and solar lanterns to replace kerosene lamps. In 2005, a small trial of 30 systems was started in the Ethiopian village of Kechemober, 240 km north of Addis Ababa. Representatives from Rema, about one hours drive away, came to see the systems. Rema had been offered a diesel generator by an NGO, but villagers were reluctant to accept the offer because of their concern about the running costs, particularly the cost of diesel fuel. The visitors were very impressed with the solar systems, as a result of which the SEF drew up a programme to install, maintain and finance SHS in the village of Rema. The technology in more detail The current Sun Transfer 10 system has up to four light-emitting-diode (LED) lamps, although some earlier units used compact fluorescent lamps. A much brighter LED (80 lumens rather than 25) has recently become available, and this will be used in future systems. The battery and charge controller are housed in a sealed box, which needs a special tool to open it. An innovative charge controller was designed to allow the systems to be disabled remotely by a local technician, as a last resort if the user does not pay the rental costs. The SEF has also developed a very small solar lantern with phonecharging facilities, as well as larger PV systems which can run a TV or music system, or even a refrigerator Payment in future In future, households will also pay for the capital cost of the system, either directly or through a loan over one to three years. A revolving capital fund is being set up to cover the purchase of further SHS units and allow the programme to become self supporting. Loan repayments will be set at about US$7 to US$13 (80-150 ETB) per month, which is similar to the energy costs avoided by having an SHS. Surveys by the Foundation suggest that families in rural areas of Ethiopia spend about US$5 to $8 (60-90 ETB) on kerosene, and US$2 to $7 (20-80 ETB) on dry cell batteries, each month.

The organisation The Solar Energy Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation, founded in Germany in 2003 by the current director Dr Harald Schtzeichel. The country representative Samson Tsegaye, manages operations in Ethiopia. In 2008 the SEF had a turnover of about US$1.2 million and 35 staff. An associated company, SunTransfer, sells solar products on a commercial basis in the Philippines, Kenya, Uganda and elsewhere, and the profits from this help to fund the work in Ethiopia. The technology How does it work? An SHS consists of a PV module, which generates electricity from sunlight; a rechargeable battery, which stores electricity so that it can be used during both day and night; a charge controller, which prevents the battery from being over-charged or deep-discharged; lights; wiring and fixtures. The basic SunTransfer 10 system developed by the Solar Energy Foundation uses a 10 Wp PV module and an 18 Ah maintenance-free gel type lead-acid battery. This combination is designed to provide light for a minimum of four hours per day, with the possibility of connecting a radio or music system for short periods as well. The battery is expected to last for five years if used carefully. The PV module and charge controller are expected to last more than 10 years. SEF has also installed a solar powered water pump in Rema, to provide fresh drinking water to the village. Previously the only supply was from a source about two hours walk away. There are two sets of taps in the village where people can collect water twice a day, for a small charge.

Ashden Awards Case Study | Solar Energy Foundation (SEF), Ethiopia

How much does it cost and how do users pay? US$1= 11 ETB (Ethiopian Birr) [April 2009] Each SHS costs about US$260 (3,000 ETB), including manufacture and installation. The capital cost of the systems installed in and around Rema were financed by donor funds. Households must pay a monthly fee of about US$1 (12 ETB), to cover the cost of service by local technicians and replacement parts such as the battery and LEDs. An outline agreement on charges and conditions was set up between the village administration and the SEF, and each household has its own contract. Payment is managed by a village committee. Households have a period of three days in which to pay their monthly fee to a fee collector. If they do not pay within this time, then the system will be shut down remotely by a technician and reactivated only when the fees are paid, although in practice this rarely happens. The fee collectors are responsible for recording the fees received and passing the money to one of the village administrators for banking. Fee collectors are paid US$3 (30 ETB) per month. How is it manufactured, promoted and maintained? Individual SHS components are imported and then assembled in the locally-made box Ethiopia, where quality checks are carried out. Each system has a reference number, which is recorded both on the box and over the door of the house where it is installed. There have been only minor problems with the units installed to date, and these have been easily rectified by the technicians in the village. SEF has set up an International Solar School in Rema in order to provide a supply of welltrained solar technicians to maintain the systems. The six-month training course covers solar theory, business management and work experience. Householders are shown how to use their systems when they are installed and, as part of the contract, they have to confirm that they understand the instructions and the rules for use. Instructions are also painted on the battery box both in written and picture form. At the end of the installation work, each family receives their own user manual and record book to keep details of the equipment, repairs and payments. Benefits By the end of 2008, about 2,130 SHS had been installed by SEF: 30 in the original demonstration, and 2,100 in the village of Rema and nearby areas. With an average of five people in each family, it is estimated that over 10,000 people are now benefitting from these systems. Environmental benefits Replacement of kerosene lamps for lighting saves about 70 litres/year of kerosene per lamp, equivalent to about 0.19 tonnes/year CO2. A survey in Rema suggested that households were using about 1.6 kerosene lamps on average. Thus for the 2,130 SHS installed by the end of 2008, the total saving of greenhouse gases is over 650 tonnes CO2/year. Previously dry cell batteries were used to power radios and music players. The disposal of the spent batteries is a problem, since they are often simply thrown into the streets. Radios and, to a limited extent, other equipment can now be powered by the SHS, which reduces the problem of disposal.

They (the children) get everything they need through solar energy. They do their homework, they can meet up with their families in the evening and they have free time to play and relax. Because of solar energy, the number of educated people here is increasing. Mulugeta Desalegn, teacher

A home in the village of Rema with a solar module mounted on the roof to power the lights inside.

Tiruwork Tasew, local bar owner and one of the collectors of the fees for the solar committee standing under her solar

Social benefits There is a real sense of pride in the Rema communities that they have rejected the option of a diesel generator, going instead for a more modern approach with solar lighting.


Ashden Awards Case Study | Solar Energy Foundation (SEF), Ethiopia

Health benefits arise from eliminating the smoke and fumes from kerosene lamps and candles, that previously caused eye and other problems. In addition the low level of light from the lamps made close work difficult. Now there is no risk of burns from touching kerosene lamps (a particular problem for children) or from house fires when lamps or candles are knocked over. Having adequate lighting in the homes now allows children to study and complete their homework in the evenings, and school grades have improved. A night school has been set up by the Womens Association in Rema to tutor adults who received little or no schooling, thus improving literacy. The solar-powered water pump has also given villagers easy access to clean drinking water, without the need for a long walk to collect it. Economic and employment benefits The programme has provided a range of employment for both men and women. Thirty technicians, including five women, have now been trained in the Solar School and are employed by the Foundation. There are nine fee collectors in Rema, including one woman. The monthly payment they receive is similar to the daily wage for a labourer, and is a useful addition to earnings from other work, such as running a shop. Three administrators handle the money. In addition, many people in the village benefit from increased working hours, including shopkeepers, tailors and craft-workers. Potential for growth and replication The SEF estimates that out of approximately 13 million households without electricity in Ethiopia, about 10 million have sufficient income to pay back a loan on an SHS. Many of them live in closely-knit communities where the approach used in Rema is replicable. The 2,100 installations in Rema and the surrounding area could form the starting point for a national programme to install SHS. By mid-2009, four new Solar Centres had been set up by technicians trained by the Solar School in different parts of Ethiopia. Each centre will operate as an independent franchised business, with initial capital to set up a revolving fund for purchasing equipment provided by the SEF. More Solar Centres and local manufacturing of components are planned.
Samson Tsegaye, the SEF country representative in Ethiopia, with a solar lantern.

Old ladies, pregnant women and women with new babies can all get water on their doorsteps. Previously we had to fetch water from far away at the river and wait in line. But now that we get water right here, its a huge benefit. Endazen Seteye, village chairman

Contact details The Solar Energy Foundation (Stiftung Solarenergie) Samson Tsegaye or Harald Schtzeichel Namibia Street PO Box 22734/10000 Addis Ababa Ethiopia www.

Water is pumped to a tank in the village by a solar water pump which feeds two main areas with taps in the centre of the village.

This report is based on information provided to the Ashden Awards judges by the Solar Energy Foundation, findings from a visit by members of the judging team to see its work in Ethiopia, and presentations by Samson Tsegaye at Ashden Awards events in London. The Ashden Awards have taken all reasonable care to ensure that the information contained in this report is full and accurate. However, no warranty or representation is given by The Ashden Awards that the information contained in this report is free from errors or inaccuracies. To the extent permitted by applicable laws, The Ashden Awards accept no liability for any direct, indirect or consequential damages however caused resulting from reliance on the information contained in this report.

Last updated: December 2009