solar energy

SIMbaLink: Towards a Sustainable and Feasible Solar Rural Electrification System

Posted by MarkWeingarten on Jan 13, 2011
SIMbaLink: Towards a Sustainable and Feasible Solar Rural Electrification System data sheet 1347 Views
Schelling, Nahana, Meredith J. Hasson, Sara Leeun Huong, Ariel Nevarez, Paul Wei-Chih Lu, Matt Tierney, Lakshminarayanan Subramanian, and Harald Schutzeichel
Publication Date: 
Dec 2010
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

Rural areas lack sustainable electrification solutions. Although solar solutions hold promise, they are fundamentally constrained by high maintenance costs (due to low user densities,equipment failure, poor handling) and a complete lack of accountability. In this paper, we describe our experiences deploying more than 5,000 Solar Home Systems in Ethiopia and the sustainability problems we faced.

Towards developing a decentralized and sustainable solar solution, we have designed SIMbaLink,an extremely low-cost real-time solar monitoring system that significantly reduces both the maintenance costs and the time to repair. By explicitly exposing the real-time status of a solar system to all parties concerned, SIMbaLink addresses the lack of accountability and trust concerns. SIMbaLink can be easily integrated with existing solar systems and can reduce equipment failure rates through early detection of system malfunctions. The SIMbaLink module uses the existing mobile network to send Solar Home System health updates to a technician located in an urban or rural center. Remote monitoring reduces the amount of visits that the technician needs to make to a certain household. Also, when the technician does make a visit, he or she will already know what the problem is.