The SOLARKIOSK

The SOLARKIOSK

Architect
GRAFT
Location
Lake Langano, Ethiopia
Project Year
2011
Category
Power Plants

The SOLARKIOSK

GRAFT as Architects

The SOLARKIOSK is a compact, afordable, autonomous and sturdy business unit with integrated solar panels, ofering energy, products, tools and services.


The SOLARKIOSK enables communities to create sustainable business in rural areas world-wide – especially those not currently connected to an electricity grid. An estimated 1.5 billion people world-wide live in such of-grid areas, 800 million alone in Africa. This is a huge untapped market, which the SOLARKIOSK will be the irst to enter. Rural communities in these areas are pitch black at night. People often resort to expensive and toxic means like kerosene lights just to be able to read. To charge their phones, many of them have to travel for days.


Even the smallest SOLARKIOSK will provide enough power for solar lighting, mobile phone and car battery charging, a computer and even a solar fridge. Depending on local conditions, the SOLARKIOSK operators can ofer afordable additional services like internet, TV and music. Customers can buy solar lanterns, solar home systems, scratch cards for mobile phones and other typical kiosk products. Since the SOLARKIOSK will most likely house the only fridge in the area, it can cool drinks and medication.


Additionally, the SOLARKIOSK provides qualiied jobs to local people. The typical SOLARKIOSK operator will come from the local community, trained and certiied by special programs at a nearby high school, university or NGO facility. These programs will teach operators how solar products work, how to maintain them, how to run a sustainable business as a shop owner and how to be a participant of the SOLARKIOSK license system, which aligns the interests of all the SOLARKIOSK operators in a given region. The operator will then typically employ several other people in order to provide the kiosk’s services eiciently.


The SOLARKIOSK has a clever design.


The SOLARKIOSK’s design was created in Germany by GRAFT architects.


With their unique knowledge and experience, and with ofi ces in Los Angeles, Berlin and Beijing, GRAFT have extended beyond classical architecture into sustainable housing and product design. Their projects have won numerous awards world-wide. The SOLARKIOSK is designed as a kit of parts, to be assembled at its target location, particularly in Africa. Before assembly, the kit’s packages are light-weight and thus transportable to remote, of - road areas – in extreme cases, on the back of donkeys. While certain parts of the kiosk (particularly the electrical components) will be manufactured centrally to ensure quality and durability, all others can be made of local materials such as bamboo, wood, adobe, stone, metal or even recycled goods.


The kiosk will be assembled locally and therefore accepted as a domestic product. After assembly, despite its light weight, the kiosk is safe and secure – an essential quality in communities where even the smallest products are of high value. The entire structure is i rmly anchored with newly designed pegs. Special detailing of all joints and assembly points on the inside of the building shell makes tinkering with the kiosk from the outside dii cult.


The SOLARKIOSK comes in many coni gurations, shapes and sizes.


Much like a “platform” in the automotive industry, the basic model can be arbitrarily extended and modii ed, adapting to all kinds of uses depending on the local market, local tax benei ts and the availability of local labor.


This renders the SOLARKIOSK attractive for purchase or license by private enterprises, entrepreneurs as well as governmental and nongovernmental organizations and institutions. A larger-size SOLARKIOSK can even produce enough energy to run a telecom tower reliably, while also providing security and maintenance. Mobile telecom requires a dense mesh of telecom towers, and current ef orts of supplying energy to them via costly, inei cient diesel generators are problematic. As a result, various telecom providers have already expressed an interest in the SOLARKIOSK. It will even be possible to connect multiple kiosks to create a local grid.


The SOLARKIOSK goes beyond business.


Every night, large parts of Africa, Asia and South America are completely dark. Near the equator, every night lasts 12 hours all year round (6pm to 6am).


The SOLARKIOSK will enable people to read, study, or simply interact during those hours – instead of just waiting for the sun to rise again. The SOLARKIOSK will thus not only bring economic growth to less developed parts of the world. It will also stimulate communities and enable people to educate themselves at night.


Where there is light, there is communication. Another huge problem in Africa is deforestation as people depend on wood and other biomass for cooking and heat. As the human population increases, demand for wood outstrips the forest’s ability to replenish itself. This not only reduces biodiversity but also causes extreme soil erosion, which in turn endangers agriculture.


Solar energy can free locals from this dependency and helps protect existing woodland.


The SOLARKIOSK comes just at the right moment.


There are several reasons why the SOLARKIOSK is the right idea at the right time.


1. Of-grid households waste a lot of money, often up to 40% of their entire income, on electricity substitutes. On average, such a household will spend $120 annually on candles, parain, kerosene and the like just to have light at night. World-wide, that adds up to $30 billion a year. In comparison, the entire grid-connected world spends only an estimated $20 billion on lighting annually.


2. Solar technology is at a historical inlection point: the prices of solar products are dropping at an astounding rate, while demand for electricity in developing countries is rising fast. In the past, solar technology was unable to compete with kerosene lamps and diesel generators – even though these are typically polluting, toxic, hazardous and expensive. Now, being a lot cheaper and easy to use, solar technology has become the better alternative, even for the underprivileged and poor. The SOLARKIOSK enables each household to save $10 per month just by providing solar energy. The average kiosk will supply between 200 and 5,000 households, thereby increasing income, stimulating local development, reducing poverty and increasing security in local communities.


3. Even in areas without electricity, mobile phones are everywhere. Mobile telecom is the fastest growing market in 21st century Africa, but charging a cell phone often takes a journey of two days to and back from the next city and can cost as much as $0,50 per charge. The SOLARKIOSK enables people to charge their phones where they live, saving time and money.


The SOLARKIOSK is looking for cooperaion and business partners.


After 1.5 years of careful design and planning, in November 2011, SOLARKIOSK GmbH was incorporated as a company in Berlin, Germany. We are now readying the kiosk for serial production. The irst prototype of the SOLARKIOSK (below) was built in November 2011 and is currently on display in Berlin and at various exhibitions. We are now looking for business partners, GOs and NGOs who want to team up with us – to bring the SOLARKIOSKs to the regions where they belong. If you have business experience in Africa or other developing areas; or if you are a GO or NGO; or if you have any other idea why the SOLARKIOSK could be useful to you, your customers or your clients, do not hesitate to contact us.


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