Blog of Urs Riggenbach

First Replication of Sol4 Model in Palestine

Posted Tuesday 8 March 2016 by Urs Riggenbach.

Welding shop in Palestine

Moutasem returned to his home country a few months ago with nothing but a vision: To make sustainable energy affordable. To this end, he joined our early adopters program. Now Moutasem has turned social entrepreneur and replicated the Sol4 technology fir the first time in Palestine.

In Palestine solar panels are not affordable and fuel is extremely expensive. I’m positive about the future of GoSol in Palestine because this cheap and efficient technology allows us to manufacture locally and gain the upper hand on the energy market. The fact that we can build something so powerful here with local materials is extremely motivating.

Moutasem’s build experience was straight forward, with a few calls and emails exchanged with our team to advise on mirror fabrication and transport of the built system.

Moutasem now aims to identify the best use cases for the technology by working with local partners. He is supported by SPARK’s Enterprise Development Programme MFS-II, and is now seeking pilot opportunities.

“I believe moving forward that scalable solar concentrators can be a game changer strengthening Palestine’s solar economy. ”
Catching the last sunset rays
First heat on the cooktop

Happy New Year!

Posted Wednesday 6 January 2016 by Urs Riggenbach.

Early Adopter Participates in Startup Program

Posted Wednesday 9 December 2015 by Urs Riggenbach.

Our early adopter Moutasem Hassan took part in the cewas Middle East startup course in Palestine. Moutasem (front-right) wants to take technology to Palestine and this week-long course helps social entrepreneurs like him refine their business ideas and build a solid strategy to move forward. Stay tuned!

Early Adopter Moutasem Hassan at CEWAS Middle-East Startup Event. and SunFire Solutions on CCTV’s "Africa LIVE"

Posted Monday 2 November 2015 by Urs Riggenbach.

We blogged earlier on our solar showcase at Siyakhana where we hosted a film crew from CCTV Africa doing a piece on renewable energy and entrepreneurialism. Watch the movie below and see our Sol4 model in action!

Solar Eggplant at GrowNYC

Posted Tuesday 15 September 2015 by Urs Riggenbach.

The guys at GrowNYC just cant be stopped. Another tasty solar snack directly harvested and cooked in their solar garden.

Connecting Builders: Switzerland meets Togo

Posted Thursday 27 August 2015 by Urs Riggenbach.

Recently we connected the two early adopters Kurt Baumann, who built a Sol4 with his school-class in Switzerland and Boris Awume from Togo, whom we portrayed earlier. Boris currently works in Switzerland but he’s going to start building in Togo at the beginning of September. We used the opportunity to get the two early adopters together.

Early adopter Kurt Baumann, handicraft teacher, explaining Boris Awume from Togo his next steps.

After some coffee we dove right in: Kurt took us to the school building where he now stores the Sol4 during the summer holidays. Kurt suspended the whole mirror-rows straight from the sealing: "That way they take up less space and we keep them out of reach from our students."

When not in use, Kurt disassembles the Sol4 and suspends the whole mirror-rows to savely store them.
Boris taking a pic of a mirror row to send to his prep-team in Togo.

We took one mirror row out into the sunlight to have a closer look at the individual pieces Boris will need to fabricate in Togo. These are notably all straight and simple metal pieces that only need cutting and welding. They also looked at the upward reflector and the custom tools we outline in our construction guides:

Kurt and Boris examining the upward reflector.
Kurt explaining the handling of the curstom mirror calibration tools.

I really liked the fact that we built our own tools to complete the machine. These tools are quick to build and effective for the job, and I felt revived in the age-old art of toolmaking.

Kurt Baumann, Teacher at Schulzentrum Kreuzfeld 4, Langenthal, Switzerland

Early adopters Boris Awume from Togo, Kurt Baumann, handicraft teacher and Urs Riggenbach from the team.

Stay tuned for the next update from our early adopters! Want to get involved? Check out how to join our early adopter team here:

Boris Awume, Entrepreneur from Togo

Posted Friday 7 August 2015 by Urs Riggenbach.

Boris Awume is our most recent early adopter. He is an entrepreneurially-minded Togolese working in Switzerland but excited to make new things possible in his homecountry. Starting at the end of this month, Boris and his team are going to build the Sol4 model to test it’s merits in Lomé, Togo.

Boris Awume testing out the reflecting of sunlight with a mirror.

Last week I met Boris personally when he came to visit me on my farm to have a first-hand look at some of the Sol4 components.

My aim has always been to enable income-generating activities. In the villages there is not much to do apart from agriculture. Though work is hard and we’re growing a lot of foods like yam, cassava, maize, rice, and cafe and cacao, we’re not able to afford much and develop our communities well. When I found out about I immediately though, here I can drive a lot of new activity.

Boris Awume, Togo

A few years back Boris invested in a small transportation business. "After the colonialists left they had first built and then again destroyed parts of a railway system. The bad transportation infrastructure is not only affecting our country but making it difficult for things to get to land-locked neighbors like Burkina Faso. As an entrepreneur I try to both improve my country and create new business opportunities."

Boris left his country during political unrest and found refuge in Switzerland. He currently works and pursues an education in the IT sector. Last week Boris came to visit me at my farm not far from where he lives, and I got to show him some parts of the Sol4 design he’s planning to build in Togo.

I’m not going there to ’try something’, I’m going there to see what’s possible.

Boris Awume, Togo

Two days after our meeting I heard back from Boris that his local partner in Lomé already scouted all the materials needed and that the cost expectations for the mirrors are even lower than those we experienced in Haiti.

As early adopter Boris has access to the construction guides that include the expected budget for different countries, material list and the fabrication steps. Especially the material list helps Boris and his local partner now to get materials organized and line everything up before Boris gets to Lomé at the end of the month. Stay tuned.

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