Solar Energy installation
I visited the coastal town of Kenya during one of my vacations and stayed in a place called Kwale during my stay. The county has a population of approximately 700,000 individuals and the area experiences the hot and wet climate. Some parts of Kwale are densely populated while the other areas are sparsely populated. The poverty levels in the county are quite high with almost half of the population living below a dollar a day. There is electricity grid in some of the areas, but the majority of the residents use charcoal and paraffin as the source of energy. The economic activity that is practiced in this area is agriculture, mining, and tourism. The active solar power would be ideal in this area bearing in mind that the area is quite hot and receives sunlight all year round. Solar energy would be viable in this area because a few of the individuals can afford solar power. People in the area need the energy to run various activities like lighting up their homes, cooking, and running the household electronics (In Letcher et al., 2018). The active solar energy is thus a viable alternative source of power that will serve the residents well bearing in mind that most of them do not have the financial muscles to afford to expensive sources of energy.
Solar power would be ideal in Kwale because the area is vast and receives sunshine all year round. The kind of housing in these areas can be referred to as permanent and semi-permanent stand-alone structure. According to Sukhatme (2008), they have slanting roofs which are ideal for the installation of the solar panels. The slanting design of the roofing will also maximize the amount of solar that is tapped by the solar panels. The area receives an average temperature of 30 degrees Celsius annually so that the solar panels would be sufficiently powered all year round. Solar power perfectly works well in the regions that receive quite the right amount of sunshine. The sunshine that Kwale gets on a daily basis is sufficient to power the solar panel and light up the county. The figure below show how the installation of a grass-thatched house in Kwale would look like.
The population will be able to manage solar energy because, with the solar energy, there is no monthly charge like the electricity bills which most of the residents cannot afford. Setting the solar power infrastructure is also easy and cost-effective as compared to the other sources of power (Sukhatme, 2008). Lastly, there is vast idle land in Kwale which means that I could lease part of the public area, put up solar energy and later supply the solar power to the community.
Now that it is apparent that solar power would be ideal for Kwale it is important to state how I will approach the installation of a solar panel to power the area. Firstly, I will have to talk to the local government for licensing of the same. In Kenya, I realized that they have a commission called the Energy Regulatory Commission. Before any energy is set up in the country, I have to clear with them to be given the green light of the setting up my power plant. I will also talk to the county and central government to get my licensing in order. Secondly, I will look at the strength of the available structures whether they can support the solar panels. In Kwale, for instance, most of the houses are semi-permanent and permanent. The dried palm leaves do the roofing in some homes while in others it has been done by the iron sheets. For the residents with weak structure like those with the palm leaves, I may be required to come up with as special plan for them. The consumption rate of the residents is another factor that I will have to look at since it will determine the size of the solar panels that I will require (In Letcher et al., 2018). The cost of the setup is another factor that I will have to consider as it will help me in determining whether the project is viable or not. The list of the information needed will help to run and manage the project without much obstacles. It will help to authorities to ensure that the needed safety requirements are adhered to even as I implement the project.
Getting clearance from the Energy Regulatory Commission will help me a great deal as it will prevent me from getting in trouble with the authority. My case could be complicated by the fact that I am a foreigner who is on a tourist visa but who wants to sabotage the economy. It is at this commission that I will get an opportunity of tabling my proposal for approval. It is also at this stage that I will be briefed on all the requirements that are needed for the same. Looking at the strength of the available structure is critical since in most cases the solar panels are usually installed on top of the roof of houses (Sukhatme, 2008). Some housing structures are weak which means that they may not be able to support some solar panel. Evaluating the strength of the structures will help me to determine whether to come up with the alternative arrangements to support the solar panel. The consumption rate of consumers is another critical factor (In Letcher et al., 2018). It does not make sense to install a solar panel that will not live to its expectation. The primary role of installing solar power is to provide energy that will be able to make the residents meet their needs. The consumption rate will be determined by the items that the individual need to be powered by the solar panel. Last but not least the cost of the setup is also critical as it will determine the magnitude or scale in which I will be able to implement the project.
Wind energy and small scale hydro are not viable sources of energy. The area is not windy which means that the wind energy will not be viable and does not have fast moving rivers and the area is generally flat hence a small hydro will not be an option. Active solar power will be viable since the area gets enough sunshine. After I have everything in order, I will embark on the process of sensitizing the community. Since I am a foreigner; I would work closely with the community leaders who will help me in penetrating the different parts of the county as I seek to supply them with solar power. I will organize community workshops in various wards whereby I will put everything in black and white for the residents. I will also engage the locals in my feasibility studies since they understand the terrain of the place better than I do. If I want to acquire land to set up the solar station and supply power to the residents, I will also involve the local community leadership. The local political and religious leaders are no doubt my best bet when it comes to reaching out to the local community. I would also consider putting up posters in the area, using the social media, and local radio station to sensitize the city on my project. During the sensitizing exercise, other than the correct use of solar power, I would take time to enlighten the residents on the safety procedures that are needed. Community schools and hospitals could be ideal areas that I would launch my flagship project on solar power for the community to see. I would also make use of the skills of the locals when it comes to the installation of the solar panels. By doing this, the community will be more receptive to my project, since the success of my project will depend on how well the welcome my idea.
In Letcher, T. M., & In Fthenakis, V. M. (2018). A Comprehensive Guide to Solar Energy Systems: With Special Focus on Photovoltaic Systems.
Sukhatme, S. P., & Nayak, J. K. (2008). Solar energy: Principles of thermal collection and storage. New Delhi: Tata McGraw-Hill.