microgrid with Okra

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Nathan Lubega

Hi Pete,

Thanks for your thoughts so far, would be great to get a project going in this space. Here are some of my thoughts that you could post on the site if you wanted:

  • Okra provides a solar energy service to off-grid houses which allows them to use 12V DC appliances at approximately $1/kWh.
  • We provide an energy service, which is the first step, but there remains a lack of 12V DC appliances in the market (other than the basic lights, fans and TVs). We want to investigate cheap solutions for other household conveniences like cooking, refrigeration, ice making, and water reticulation, e.g. a low powered 12V rice cooker that uses pre-heated water.
  • Another of our challenges is getting full utilisation out of a solar only microgrid, which is subject to seasonal variation. We need to design for the worst generation months of the year, which necessarily means there is more power available in the summer months than is likely to be used by the network.
  • We want to find cheap ways to use this excess power in productive/communal applications, especially ones that are not instantaneously required (e.g. pumping water into a tank for later use), and provide this as a communal service.
  • Is there an application for solar cooking tech that could make use of this “spare” power? e.g. keeping a hot plate warm for tea, or cooking, or boiling water in a local shop.

As Afnan mentions, cooking is a tough one, it’s a huge behaviour change for people to adopt new cooking practices. Especially when wood-fired cooking is relatively cheap for them. But I think if there’s a service that just ticks away in the background and cooks/boils water/warms the tea/etc, and isn’t too expensive to run, people will be interested to try it out.

Happy to chat further about this!


Oscar AitchisonEngineer/Operations Manager
m (Cambodia) +855 15 332 705
e oscar@okrasolar.com
w okrasolar.com