SOLAR ENERGY KIOSKS
The Centre for Research in Energy and Energy Conservation (CREEC) has established a Solar Energy Kiosk in Kabanga, Mukono district of Uganda. The kiosk acts as both a means of increasing electric energy access to people living in off-grid areas and as a field laboratory to assess the performance and user perception of pico-PV products.Read about the kiosk as a field laboratory here. The kiosk offers services such as solar lamp rental; solar lamp and phone charging; internet access; rental of portable DVD players; and scanner, printer, and copy machine services–all powered by a 12 V solar PV system. At maximum capacity the kiosk can provide 60 solar lamps, 65 phone chargers, two computers, one printer, and four DVD players. People in the community pay a small fee to charge mobile phones and access the internet directly at the kiosk. Charged solar lanterns are rented to customers at a small fee while the kiosk remains with the charging panels. When the battery of one lamp is discharged it can be exchanged at the kiosk for a freshly charged one while the old one is charged.
The kiosk is located in front of Kabanga’s secondary school, in an area accessible to all community members, but particularly convenient for students who can benefit from improved lighting for study
ing at night.
The total investment in the kiosk was higher than would be typical if it was solely running as a business. This is due to the fact that the kiosk dually acts as a field laboratory for testing of solar products as well as a business. (See Our Services page for more information on how the kiosk can help manufacturers and distributors of solar products learn how their products behave in the field and are perceived by potential users.) The total annual operating cost for the kiosk is estimated at $1,608, which includes a salary of $960 for the kiosk o
perator. Expected income for the kiosk is $16 per day or
$4,800 per year. At this rate, the estimated payback period for the kiosk is 7.5 years.
In addition to the wealth of information that the kiosk provides as a field laboratory, it has also had a positive impact on the community through the provision of a jobs for the kiosk operators, improved access to clean and better quality light sources, decreased use of fossil fuels for lighting, and easier access to various types of communication and technology.