The SolarTurtle is a solar kiosk designed for maximum security and maximum portability. These devices are housed in containers and assembled off site. They can be deployed by simply offloading the container and unfolding the panels towards the sun. These community-owned solar kiosks sell electricity “by the bottle”. This means that a recycled plastic bottle is halved and battery inserted, the lid is then converted into a 12V cigarette lighter socket, allowing communities to build and maintain their own battery packs. Micro-grid connections are offered additionally to power local schools and businesses. Delivered as turnkey plant by truck, this fold-away solar PV system provides basic electricity to 300 households and a local school and is stored safely preventing theft.
Whereas there are numerous solar power solutions, the main benefit of this plug-n-play solution solution is the security features, which are part of the product. All the components needed, for example, solar panels, batteries, charge controllers and consumer connections can be locked away. This is imperative in crime-ridden areas.
Implementation & (Social) Business Approach
SolarTurtles is a franchise system and works by identifying a school recipient and linking it to a funder, i.e. local entrepreneur from the community. This local funder is to own and also manage the franchise. The “Turtlepreneur” is then trained to sell electricity and energy-efficient devices, and also encouraged to add his/her own ventures to the new electrified shop space. The production price has been set at 350,000 South African Rand and will be sold at 500,000 South African Rand
The system is currently being tested at a school in rural Transkei. With over 2,000 students living without electricity, the aim is to provide affordable electricity to serve them and community at large. Every morning learners bring their empty solar energy bottles to school and drop it at the container. After a day’s classes the learners pay R10 to collect their solar recharged bottles and take them home where they provide a versatile source of energy for lights, phones, radios and ICT devices. The school purchases power from the turtle though a prepaid meter installed in the SolarTurtle. With the funds generated from the school and the community, the “Turtlepreneur” earns a living and makes the business self-sustaining.
Video of SolarTurtle