Nextek Power System’s CEO, Paul Savage, spoke recently at a TEDx Detroit gathering to brief the public on the company’s efforts to bring electrical power to people in Haiti who live off the grid.
The portable, solar powered trailer system is called the STAR (Stationary or Transportable Available Resource), and is designed to be a community charging station, capable of providing power to as many as 400 people at a time. Many of the recipients have never had electrical power in their homes.
This simple solution, consisting of a deployable solar panel, battery charging station and charging controller, makes it possible to power homes and small businesses anywhere, regardless of proximity to power utilities or other sources. Community members charge their battery packs at the station, and carry it to their homes, where it is hooked up to lights and other small electrical loads.
Development of systems like the STAR is critical to the economic and cultural development of the one billion people around the world who do not have access to electrical power, and the additional two billion who have substandard power.
Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) is a United Nations initiative that has a goal of universal energy access by 2030. The effort is a cooperative among energy innovators and suppliers to bring electrical power to the estimated 100 million households that are still without it.
The directive relies heavily on solar technology because of the relatively low cost in reaching remote communities. Nextek Power Systems supports the UN’s efforts and is involved in efforts to bring solar power to places like Haiti. In addition to providing electricity to impoverished areas, the introduction of the technology has also been shown to improve local economic development, public health, education, and environmental issues.
A video made at the recent Solar Power International conference features four industry professionals discussing the benefits and future of SE4ALL and solar power in general:
Bringing affordable and renewable energy sources to the world, especially to people in developing countries, is a primary goal of the United Nations Foundation. Recently, the foundation’s Sustainable Energy for All Initiative established a global Energy Access Practitioner Network, which focuses on both household and community-level electrification. The concept is to provide energy for health, agriculture, education, small business, communities and household solutions, with an overall goal of achieving universal access to modern energy services by 2030.
Key to the efforts is the development of alternatives to current energy sources in developing countries, which often do not provide electrical grid access to many of their citizens. This forces people, especially in rural areas, to rely on outdated, expensive and sometimes dangerous carbon-based lighting and power sources such as kerosene burners, charcoal, or wood.
Nextek Power Systems applauds the UN’s initiative and is committed to helping create the next generation of sustainable power sources. Our technology benefits customers in both developed and developing countries by decreasing dependence on electrical grid power, and therefore on carbon-based energy sources.
Network members are working to accelerate the scale-up of renewable and low-carbon technologies by removing market barriers to the effective delivery of energy services. This includes promoting the adoption of new technologies and innovative financial and business models, as well as the identifying best practices.
More information about the UN program is available at http://sustainableenergyforall.org/events-outreach/practitioner-network.
There are also specific links to pdf documents:
A list of the members of the Practioner Network.
As the Marketing Manager for Nextek Power Systems it is my job to market Nextek to the world, but it’s also my job to market Nextek to its employees. What does that mean? It means that I help create a corporate culture, so that Nextek is as welcoming, engaging, and inviting to our staff as our customers. Nextek is grateful to be a part of the great City of Detroit, which we call home. So we make sure that we reach out to many of the amazing organizations in the City that help its most needy citizens every day. This month we collected money for COTS–the Coalition on Temporary Shelter. COTS opened its doors in 1981 to help address the City’s growing homeless population. Today, COTS manages three 24-hour facilities with a staff of more than 90 people and an annual budget in excess of $6 million. Annually, COTS serves over 2,000 Detroit area homeless men, women and children in its emergency shelter and approximately 450 people in its transitional and permanent housing programs.
We asked the staff of Nextek to make donations specifically for children’s needs at the shelters. Brian Noble, Nextek CFO, generously offered to match the employee collection, up to $500! At the end of the collection period, we had collected $650 plus Brian’s $500 match for a total of $1,150! But the giving didn’t stop there. When COTS Chief Development Officer Trish DeWald told a mutual friend what Nextek was doing for COTS, the friend and her husband made a donation of school supplies to their back-to-school program. And, when I told my husband what Nextek was doing for COTS, he told me that his company, Associated Community Services, has a weekly “dress down” day where the staff can pay a few dollars to wear jeans to work and each week they supported a different charity. So, he put COTS on the list of upcoming charities to be supported! Finally, when I told The Nelson Foundation for Arts and Letters, a non-profit that supports arts education in Michigan, what Nextek was doing for COTS they generously granted $1,000 in arts and crafts supplies to the child care center at COTS! All told, over $3,000 in funds and supplies will be collected for COTS because of a couple of casual conversations!
I would like to thank all of the employees of Nextek Power Systems, Rose and Gerry Gleeson, the staff of Associated Community Services, and The Nelson Foundation for Arts and Letters for all of their generosity. Having the means to be philanthropic is a wonderful gift, to have it spread is nothing less than magical. Nextek asks you to help spread the magic!
Wayne Gutschow and Liang Downey, both of Nextek Power Systems, having been working hard to make the IEEE/Sirona Cares solar trailers a reality and starting July 24, 2011 one will be on display at the Detroit Renaissance Center during the IEEE Power and Energy Society General Meeting. The location and event details are as follows:
Monday, July 25, 2011 14:00-18:00
A CSI Special Technical Session will be presented:
Eliminating Global Energy Poverty – The IEEE PES Community Solutions Initiative (CSI)
Room: GM – TRAINING ROOM 9/10 – TS
Chairs: Robin Podmore; IncSys and Ray Larsen; SLAC
Speakers will include:
Noel Schulz : IEEE PES President Elect: Introduction
Robin Podmore: CSI Mission and Strategy for Extreme Affordability
Ray Larsen: CSI Solar Trailer – Background and Overview
Wayne Gutschow: CSI Solar Trailer – Engineering Design and Construction Experience
Paul Lacourciere: Sirona Haiti Business Plan and Field Experience
Henry Louie and Vincent Van Acker: Axial Flux Wind Turbine – Construction and Test Experience
Butch Shadwell: Renewable Generation Monitoring and Control System
Glen McKnight: Open Source Cooperative Development
For registration information, click here.
Recently New York Newsday covered the incredible work that IEEE, Sirona Cares and Nextek Powers System are doing to design, create and deploy much needed solar trailers for earthquake ravaged Haiti. These 1.5kw trailers have the ability to charge 40 batteries that Haitian residents will take to their homes to generate power for lights and charge cell phones, laptops and other portable devices. These trailers will also help bolster the economy by allowing Haitian franchisees to lease the trailers and then charge a small fee to residents to rent the batteries and re-charge them. To see the Newsday article in its entirety, please click here.
Solar-power stations housed in six trailers are sitting aboard a cargo ship heading to Grand Goâve, Haiti a town of nearly 50,000 inhabitants in southern Haiti that was 90 percent destroyed in last year’s earthquake.
The SunBlazer solar trailers were developed by a team of dedicated IEEE volunteers who answered an IEEE challenge to provide low-cost, reliable electricity to a poor rural area. The team, formed by Life Fellow Ray Larsen, Fellow Robin Podmore, and Senior Member (and Nextek employee) Liang Downey, has spent almost two years designing and building the power stations, now in its first proof-of-concept deployment by the IEEE Community Solutions Initiative group.
CSI, a not-for-profit group within the IEEE Power & Energy Society (PES), is committed to the open-source design and delivery of power stations to the world’s poorest and most energy-deprived populations. Larsen and Podmore co-chair the group, which is composed entirely of volunteers.
For the complete article recently published on the IEEE’s “The Institute” web magazine, click here.
In a country where just 1 in 7 citizens have access to electricity, Sirona Cares and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) plan on bringing light and small business opportunities to rural Haiti. Generous donations of time, money and resources by IEEE members societies, IEEE Foundation, Nextek Power Systems, Russell Engineering and private donors has allowed the team to develop and soon deploy solar trailers that will produce 1 kW of electricity each…enough to charge 40 home battery kits daily, bringing electricity to homes and facilities that desperately need this simple utility. The organizing IEEE group is called the Community Solutions Initiative (communitysolutionsinitiative.org) in which Nextek has several key members including CEO Paul Savage, VP of Engineering Wayne Gutschow and Liang Downey, Director. The Sirona business plan is to establish sustainable local businesses, not charity. These simple trailers are easy to deploy and maintain. The product (electricity) is desperately needed within the community and the businesses will be locally owned franchises to provide affordable solutions to the community, as well as create accountability and dignity for business owners. The initial pilot program will deploy 6 units this spring, followed by the full pilot program which will deploy a total of 15 units. Ultimately the full scale plan will be to deploy electricity to at least 1,000,000 people (1/10th of the entire population of the country) over the first five years of operation.
While the Pilot program depends on donated seed funding, a Haitian corporation, Sirona-Haiti, has been established to oversee the pilot operation while raising an estimated $38M in venture capital to establish in-country manufacturing. This will provide another source of jobs and income for local Haitians while fueling rapid growth in which all profits are reinvested in-country.
Nextek, along with Russell Engineering who designed the trailer, under Wayne Gutschow has served as the electrical system designer and integrator for the entire enterprise; its amazing volunteer team deserves great credit for the impressive success to date.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is the world’s largest professional association dedicated to advancing technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity. Led by a group of IEEE volunteers working with Engineers Without Borders, Nextek Power Systems will be helping to provide renewable energy to Haiti and other disadvantaged regions in the world. Nextek has committed to donate our NPS1000 Power Modules and associated hardware that have been specifically modified to support the initiative in Haiti.
The long-term goal is to create economically and environmentally sustainable energy, as well as build an entrepreneurial renewable energy industry in these developing and disadvantaged areas.
In 2005, President Clinton established the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) to turn ideas into action and to help our world move beyond the current state of globalization to a more integrated global community of shared benefits, responsibilities, and values.
By gathering world leaders from a variety of backgrounds, including Nobel Peace Prize winners, leading global CEO’s, major philanthropists and foundation heads, directors of non-governmental organizations and prominent members of the media, CGI has created a unique opportunity to channel the capacities of individuals and organizations to realize change. To fulfill the action-oriented mission of CGI, all members devise practical solutions to global issues through the development of specific and measurable commitments to action.
And this is where Nextek comes in: In 2007, Nextek Power Systems, Inc., and its partners committed to designing, building, testing and installing a solar-assisted lighting system for a secondary school in Tanzania, with the goal of reaching 10 schools across the country and implementing a similar plan in Rwanda.
With our partner, E3 Labs, we sent a team to Tanzania in 2008 to determine whether the school in question was a good candidate for a lighting upgrade. What we discovered however, was that the majority of the electricity use at the school was for security lights at night, not in the classrooms during the day. We then reframed our commitment to deliver more efficient exterior lighting to the school initially, to be followed by interior lighting. We also learned that better air circulation was needed in the school, and we therefore planned to supply the school with our circulating DC ceiling fans (the Vari-Fan and Vari-Cyclone Fan) along with the new lighting, all on the same solar-assisted circuit.
Using this solar-assisted lighting system as a model, Nextek will do the same with local partners in 10 schools across the country. In neighboring Rwanda, a school will be selected for such a system, which Nextek will again design, build, test, and install. Nextek will further provide 100 hours of engineering consulting services to the William J. Clinton Foundation in its work to improve the Rwandan Grid’s accommodation of efficient and robust microgrids, which will empower Rwandans through better design. The goal is to allow these customers to benefit from their nascent grid as it improves while delivering to them a portal to use their own power generating and storage devices, currently a disorganized, un-integrated system.
Using this solar-assisted lighting system as a model, we plan to do the same with local partners in ten schools across the country. In neighboring Rwanda, a school will be selected for such a system, which Nextek will again design, build, test, and install. We also plan to provide upwards of 100 hours of engineering consulting services to the William J. Clinton Foundation in its work to improve the Rwandan Grid’s accommodation of efficient and robust microgrids, which will empower Rwandans through better design. The goal is to allow these customers to benefit from their nascent grid as it improves while delivering to them a portal to use their own power generating and storage devices, currently a disorganized, un-integrated system.
By installing microgrids in Africa, Nextek will be bringing best practices in grid design and management to Rwanda and Tanzania, providing leadership for the expansion – and sometimes establishment – of a first quality, high efficiency, and flexible power infrastructure in Africa.
In a few weeks, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) will host its’ 2009 Annual Meeting. This year’s focus will be on four action areas – points of collaboration and intervention – that will help create economic value for our members and society:
- Harnessing innovation for development
- Strengthening infrastructure
- Developing human capital
- Financing a sustainable future
Each Action Area will allow CGI members to focus their shared knowledge, resources, and skills to find economically sustainable solutions to global challenges in the areas of education, energy and climate change, global health, and poverty.
Our CEO, Paul Savage, will attend this event and share our mutual vision of highly efficient, flexible DC power in Africa and beyond.
For more information on the Clinton Global Initiative visit: www.clintonglobalinitiative.org.