Rugaragara, Nuruguru

Rugaragara, Nuruguru, Rwanda

imageBuilt: Coming Summer 2012
Coordinates: 2°35’42.26”S ,29°29’36.37”E
Power Generation: Pelton Turbine and Induction Generator
Max Power Output: 5500W
Cost: USD40,000
Built By: e.quinox and DHE
Objectives: Rural electrification by hydroelectric power.
Partners: Imperial College London, University of Dartmouth, IEEE, Care International

The hydro kiosk project is a collaboration between e.quinox and DHE (Dartmouth Humanitarian Engineering), planned for implementation in June of 2012. The designed system is for a pico hydropower scheme that diverts water from the top of the Rugaragara falls through a vertical height of 25m. The DHE team have designed and manufactured a state of the art pelton wheel turbine to capture energy from the falling water, whilst e.quinox have designed the entire front-end electrical system to control output from the induction generator being used to create electricity from the falling water.

 

Extensive socio-economic studies of the local population have shown the region to be a highly appropriate constituency to introduce the e.quinox battery box charging system as a solution to rural electrification. Local people would hire a battery box with DC and AC outputs that is charged using the electricity generated from the hydropower kiosk. Each battery box can be used for powering lights, mobile phones, radios and shavers to improve the standard of living for local people.

 

This summer e.quinox and DHE will undertake the entirety of the construction work with the help of employed local labour. The project is being facilitated by Care International an NGO working in Rwanda to help improve the wellbeing of the rural population. Funding for the project has been generously donated by IEEE.

 

Here are some photos of the progress so far!

 

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Kavure, Rwanda

Kavure, Rwanda

imageBuilt: Summer 2011
Coordinates:
Solar Panels: 6

Max Power Output: 720W
Batteries in service: 80
Cost: USD12,000
Built By: UN Habitat
Objectives: Rural electrification by solar.
Partners: Imperial College London, UN Habitat Commission, Min. Infra of Rwanda

 

With a distance of about 14 kilometres to our Energy Kiosk in Batima, this is our second project in the District of Bugesera in rural Rwanda and our third solar-powered Energy Kiosk overall. Built in collaboration with the UN-habitat, the kiosk is set in a village of 50 households belonging to Rwandan genocide returnees from Tanzania. In total, our kiosk has the potential to supply 100 households with safe access to electricity and lighting, therefore also including Rutete, a refugee village built very nearby by the Red Cross. The Kavure project was initiated in late 2010 and implemented in September 2011 following a thorough development of the underlying technical and business solution. A follow up mission in January 2012 saw the e.quinox team move the kiosk from its temporary site to a room in a purpose built community centre. On the technical side, six solar panels of 120W each were installed on the roof of the community centre.

Three panels each charge two large storage batteries through a system of charge controllers and inverters. In September of 2012 the kiosk will be updated with our latest data logger solutions allowing remote access to the kiosks statistics from Imperial College London. From a business perspective, a pay-per-recharge model has been determined to be the most feasible solution, as the local community consists mostly of farmers who earn wages on a day-to-day basis. As the next mobile phone charging station is in Batima, a two-hour walk from Kavure, an additional mobile phone charging service has also been established in the kiosk. A customer survey was conducted before implementation and its results used to determine all fees as well as to establish a baseline for current energy usage.

Minazi, Rwanda

imageMinazi, Rwanda

Built: Summer 2009
Coordinates:
Solar Panels:
9
Max Power Output: 570W
Cost: USD18,000
Built By: Minazi District
Objectives: Rural electrification by solar. Test bed for standalone solution in 2012.
Partners: Imperial College London, BTC, Min. Infra of Rwanda

 

The first e.quinox solar Energy Kiosk was implemented in the Minazi sector of Rwanda in 2009 by the organisation’s founding members. Overlooking the beautiful mountains of Rwanda, the Energy Kiosk is supplying electricity to 100 households in a remote region that will not receive a grid connection for many years to come. The kiosk has 9 panels, with a peak power of 570W. Initially the kiosk operated purely on a pay-per-recharge system. With the introduction of a new generation of battery boxes in 2010 a separate business model based on a monthly charge was implemented in conjunction with the old system. The kiosks battery box charging output was changed from DC to the more standard AC system, which, among other things, allows the kiosk to offer mobile phone charging. As the climate of Minazi is relatively wet, storage batteries were added for more technical charging stability.

 

To further benefit the community, the roof of the building is used to collect free water for villagers. The summer of 2012 will see the kiosk updated with our latest data logger solution so as to be able to remotely gather data about the kiosks health from our base at Imperial College London. The Minazi site will also act as a test bed for our new stand alone energy solution which aims to eliminate the large over head costs of the kiosk model and deliver solar powered energy straight to local people’s homes. The scheme will be tested with a select number of residencies this September and will see users paying for the system using mobile banking technology.

Business Model

Business Model

e.quinox’s core strategies are based around the original Energy Kiosk Model. 

The Energy Kiosk is a centralised power generation hub, from which electricity is distributed in a decentralised manner by means of battery boxes. These are given out to customers against a small deposit as well as a fee upon recharge of the battery box. The hubs are set up using locally sourced equipment where possible and are maintained a single shopkeeper, selected and trained by e.quinox from a variety of applicants.


The electricity needed to support the Energy Kiosk is harnessed through solar panels, hydro-turbines, or other suitable method. Once a battery is depleted, it can be exchanged for a new, fully charged one. This effectively provides a “Pay as you Go” service hence making them affordable to poor families in rural areas. By additionally providing a full lighting solution, the battery boxes also offer a cheaper and safer alternative to expensive and hazardous kerosene lamps, which are currently widely used in areas like rural Rwanda. The pricing of recharges is selected to be competitive with such sources. 

Gihara, Rwanda

Gihara, Rwanda

The Energy Kiosk in Gihara, Kamonyi District, has been shut down permenantly after a financial review showing the project deemed unsustainable.

The kiosk, which served 150 households, was installed in September 2010 to test the feasibility of a grid-powered Energy Kiosk in rural Rwanda by e.quinox in collabration with BTC Rwanda. The management was handed over to the local cooperative in Gihara in 2011.

Concerns have been raised regarding the state of the battery boxes while the shopkeeper was allegedly setting prices which deviated from the recommendation. This led to an overall loss of 362,000RWF between September 2011 and July 2012. Efforts were made to revive the kiosk in July 2012 by changing the payment scheme but was unsuccessful.

Since we saw the benefits of our battery boxes to some of our customers, they were given the option to purchase the battery box for 5,000RWF. Alternatively, they can return the battery box and receive the initial deposit (5,000RWF).

We acknowledge and appreciate the support we have received from the authorities at the Kamonyi District throughout the project. We have remained in great contact with the vice-mayor of the Kamonyi District, Claudine Uwineza, throughout the project, and are thanking her for her continuous support and advice in major decisions.

We sincerely apologise for any failure on our part, and hope that the Kamonyi District will soon be able to provide electricity to its entire population.

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