GoSol.org in the Johannesburg Workshop

Posted 5 October 2015 by Lorin Symington.

Johannesburg is a great place to build. South Africa is the industrial heart of Southern Africa and JHB is where the action is. In the industrial districts it seems every 5th shop is either a laser cutting shop, an engineering firm, a metal supply or a paint store. Throw in the occasional glass shop, custom steel fabrication workshop or oven/catering supply store and we’re more than all set.

Painting the solar concentrator.
Crosby and Zander, SunFire Solutions’team, are really excited to see GoSol.org technology in action. They have mostly been working with parabolic solar cookers which are prefabricated, flat packed and shipped. They work well enough but have a number of drawbacks that SunFire Solutions thinks are overcome by our design.

We’ve set up our workshop at Zander van Manen’s place. He’s managing director of SunFire Solutions. There’s a garage where we can lock up our tools at night and behind it a covered concrete slab where we’ll be fabricating. Between Zander’s tools, Crosby’s and the local Builders Warehouse we have everything we need for an efficient build.

Zander van Manen is quite a guy. Degree in environmental management, years of doing Environmental Impact Assessments on gold mining sites in Mozambique, years of working with an ecological pest solutions company (where he got to apply the many years of hawking and owling knowledge he has amassed since his first owl at age 8).

Much of his workshop skills come from bush mechanicking broken down mining equipment in Mozambique (he has an unbelievable story about an excavator breaking down during a river crossing in Moz and being the guy under the half-submerged hood while the rest of the team stood crocodile guard with spears and torches, calling out to him whenever they saw a shadow swimming his way). Now he’s settled in with SunFire Solutions bringing a wide array of solar energy solutions to people in the country.

Sol4 parts ready for assembly.

The past week has been a blur of fabrication, filming and discussion on the state of solar thermal. We’re documenting all the steps of the construction, mixing in the occasional story or piece of solar thermal wisdom gleaned from years of field experience. This documentation will be put online on the GoSol Hub, where builders, users and supporters of our #FreeTheSun campaign get early access and tech support.

It is very rare that I meet someone in my field as conversant on solar thermal / empowering people / preservation of ecological balance and I tell you it has been grand! Crosby in particular has been in the solar cooking field for many years and has a breadth of knowledge on technologies, groups and people working in the field that I could listen to him talk for ages. We have to cut conversations short because we’re all really excited to get this Sol4 on the road and start demonstrating the power of the sun!

Next week we set up the Sol4 and oven and get demonstrating! It is widely reported that one of the biggest impediments to small scale solar thermal adoption is lack of awareness of these solutions. We hope to make a dent in that by making as big a splash as we can! Wish us luck and fortitude.

Note: We’re building a Sol4 with upward reflector and a baking oven. Want to build one too? Get early access by supporting our #FreeTheSun campaign and signing up as a builder!




Get in touch

Send us an email to info@solarfire.io

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