by Wiebke Volkmann and Conrad Roedern
Many families would love for their children to have the best of both worlds: knowing their rural roots, being in nature, possibly even finding work as farmers and producers of food as well as having access to quality education and other social services. With the cost of living and crime rising every day in cities and towns more and more people are dreaming of not only visiting their rural homes over weekends and annual holidays, but actually living there and making it a profitable business. Decentralized renewable electricity generation can make this possible and will become the only option as fuel prices are still on a steady rise.
While we cannot yet easily replace the fuel for our cars with renewable sources, farmers and tourism operators can convert their electricity generators and water pumps to using the energy of the sun. This is not only good for their bank accounts but also helps to keep rural productivity alive and to make living on the land a viable lifestyle. Imagine – with the expanded cell phone and internet coverage in the country and a well-designed Solar electricity system families could consider computer based distance education for their children and themselves. Even running a consulting business can then be done from a farm that is not connected to the national electricity grid.
Modern agriculture requires competent, motivated and diverse people with ambition. These people usually also desire a lifestyle that gives them the opportunity to be in touch with the world and with current information as well as having the comfort of refrigerators, entertainment and other electrical appliances.
Usually people move to towns for these amenities. The alternative is, to install off-grid electricity. Agriculture and other natural resource based enterprises are the backbone of our economy and the No One employer. Besides the advantages to individuals, families and communities the installation of independent Solar systems can contribute significantly to the national development of our country. Sun rays come for free to every homestead and they do not need to be imported for cash.
A striking calculation: A typical Diesel generator uses 0.3 l fuel per kWh. With the Diesel price standing at N$ 10.84 per litre that means a cost of N$ 3.25 per kWh for the fuel only. Transport of fuel, maintenance and replacement cost easily double this figure to approximately N$ 6.50 per kWh unit. A Solar kWh costs approximately N$ 5.00 to produce, taking into account the purchase and installation of the system, maintenance and replacement of batteries. Since transport-intense maintenance on Solar Systems is much lower these everincreasing expenses will also be contained much better.