In 2012 CREEC established a Solar Energy Kiosk in a rural area in Uganda. The kiosk operates as a business and offers energy bound services such as solar lamp rental, phone charging and computer services. At maximum capacity the kiosk can rent out 60 solar lamps and charge 65 phones a day.
The Energy Kiosk is also used as a platform for field testing, using the advantages of the well running business. On the one hand, field tests can be carried out quite fast with comparatively little effort because of the existing infrastructure. On the other hand, test results of high data quality can be expected due to the established testing structures and mature customers, experienced in giving feedback in questionnaires. The survey gathers information about users’ perception of the products, benefits and challenges associated with the use, opinions about features of products and many others. The durability and quality of products is monitored as well and malfunctioning or broken products are returned to the CREEC solar lab for evaluation.
With the Solar Energy Kiosk as Field Laboratory CREEC wants to provide a platform to test all kind of pico‑PV products under african-real-life conditions. Customer‑oriented field tests will support the development of enhanced pico‑PV products targeting the African market. This testing service addresses on the one hand manufacturers to give support in product development and prototype testing, on the other hand companies who want to ensure high quality before adding new products to their product ranges.
Already the first field laboratory test run with Lighting Africa certified high quality solar lamps confirmed the demand for field testing. Even the high quality solar lamps showed in average default rates of 22 % within the first half year, often simple problems which could have been sorted out easily, if previous field tests would have been carried out.
More information about what the Field Laboratory can investigate and results so far, gives the paper Solar Energy Kiosk as a Field Laboratory presented by CREEC at the 3rd Symposium: Small PV Applications in Ulm, Germany.
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