Girl MOVE Academy in Nampula
Girl MOVE is a Grassroots Leadership Academy, recognized by UNESCO in 2021 with the 2021 UNESCO Prize for Girls & Women Education, that creates innovative models of education to amplify talent, raise gender equality and promote sustainable transformation. The organization is based in Nampula, Mozambique and their main building is off-grid in an peri-urban area.
The electrical grid in Nampula provides intermittent and low quality power which create problems and frustration to the users of the building. Teaching, learning and building day to day function was negatively affected by using the grid. On the other hand, it was always the intention of the organization to provide an innovative solution to energy demands and, at the same time, provide an example of sustainable transformation to the users and community at large.
For these reasons the organization applied for a grant to EDP Energy Access Fund and hired SwissSolar to install, and Logos Industries for the procurement, of a 12.6 kWp photovoltaic system with 30 kWh battery bank powered by Victron Energy and Freedom Won equipment. The prepaid utility grid connection was defined as backup for the system.
The academy set the following goals with this project:
- Increase the number of quality training hours
- Ensure access to information technology skills training
- Test innovative ways for the community to access training, in order to improve their academic or income generation goals
- Decrease dirty energy use (generator) in implementing the organization programs
The building aims to be a symbol of women’s leadership and reference to the world, and a center for knowledge creation, where disruptive ideas and visions can be embraced and discussed openly. The architects had the challenge to transfer that vision into a real building. The project deeply impacted the local community. Most of the building was made with brick, produced in site with the traditional techniques. Students and local neighbors were invited to participate in the building process, so the knowledge was shared. The use of the earth as a construction material was important to dignify a material that normally is considered a poor material.
- Project: Girl MOVE Academy
- Location: Nampula, Mozambique
- Application: Education
- Energy Type: Solar PV
- Installation Type: Off-grid
- Installation Date: 2019
- Installed by: SwissSolar and Logos Industries
- Powered by: Victron Energy and Freedom Won
- Financed by: EDP Energy Access Fund
The installer didn’t receive a briefing from the client for the installation. A base load was calculated, while air-conditioning systems removed, to reduce consumption and eliminate all objects on the roof, to be able to install an array that would not be visible to not ruin the aesthetics of the building.
- Solar Array: Generation of 12.6 kWp, consisting of two arrays of 6.3 kWp with twenty JA Solar Mono PERC 315Wp modules, connected to two Victron SmartSolar 250V/100A charge controllers on ballasted mounting structure;
- Inverter System: 10kVA Victron Quattro inverter/charger with CCGX monitoring including by-pass switch and over-voltage/spike protection;
- Battery Bank: Freedom Won Lite 30/24 – LiFePo4 battery bank 30 kWh, supplying daily power use of 24kWh @ 4000 cycles and connected to a Victron Lynx DC bus;
- Life Expectancy: 25 years.
The following challenges were shared by the installer and user:
- Find a location for the array so that would not ruin the aesthetics of the building;
- Integrate the new conducts and wiring on a brick building;
- Transport and install 300kg battery bank;
- Technical closet with all solar and electrical equipment being shared as storage with flammable materials;
- Prepaid utility grid backup needs to be paid, minimum fee, or contract will expire;
- Lack of technical knowledge on the organization to due maintenance of the system.
While other sustainable strategies and tactics could be implemented in the project, motion sensors, stormwater collection, waste recovery, and others, the outcomes are clear, a net-zero, off-grid, self-sustainable energy building that teaches young women to think outside the box and innovate. The Girl MOVE Academy is everything buildings in Mozambique should be: gorgeous, functional, local sourced construction and energy emancipated.