Category Archives: Access to Energy

Our first export!

Close the Gap has commissioned Grey Green do a second DigiTruck. This time it will be sent, by sea (and road freight) to Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The challenges faced once again were “How are we going to deliver a fully functioning off-grid IT lab to the DRC?” To keep logistics costs down, a revolutionary design was conceived by Grey Green that allows for no changes to the external dimensions or structural integrity of the container. To further reduce installation costs, the system was pre-engineered, mounted, wired and tested locally such that it was ready for a simple DIY installation in half a day once it reaches its destination by the recipient community members.

Grey Green has proven that it is now able to deliver containerized off-grid solar PV solutions to anywhere in the world.

Do you need electrical power in remote and isolated areas?
Do you need a self-sufficient mobile clinic, office or classroom?
We have a sustainable energy solution ready for you…

Helping Close the Gap


Holland-based NGO, Close the Gap, approached Grey Green late in 2015 with a challenge…

Can you design an off-grid PV system to cater for the IT class that seats 18 students?
Can the system be transported all over South Africa?
Can you make the system go from disassembled to operational in under one day?
Can you design it so that anyone can assemble the system?

Grey Green took on the challenge and delivered a system that now provides education to students of all ages in Langa, Western Cape.
Once again, we are proving our ability to think innovatively by making renewable energy simple, accessible and mobile.

Read more about the launch at the V&A Waterfront here.

Waverley Girls’ School New IT Lab

A partnership between Sci-Bono and Dell has provided the Johannesburg based school with a refurbished 20ft shipping container that will now be used as an IT lab.
The container lab is kitted with desks and computer equipment for an educator and ten students.
Grey Green provided the PV system that will cater to the energy needs of the IT lab, and will allow it to run completely off-grid.

Sci-Bono & DELL Solar Computer Labs

Grey Green has completed a further 3 x 2.5kW off-grid solar PV computer labs for SHAWCO in Kensington, Khayelitsha and Manenberg. In addition to this, a further 4 x off-grid solar powered computer labs have been built, installed and commissioned in public schools around Soweto to be managed and run by Sci-Bono. The PV Panels used for these projects were sponsored by SUNPOWER. The gallery above shows 3D renderings from AutoCAD while actual pictures after installation are shown in the gallery below.

Sibongile Children’s Home PV System

Sibongile installation in progress    Sibongile installation in progress

Grey Green was appointed by Project 90 X 2030 to install a 6kW grid-tied Solar PV system at Sibongile Children’s Centre in Khayelitsha. The system is designed to currently not feed back into the grid.  It is expected to cover at least 30-40% of the centre’s daily energy consumption. Top quality panels and inverters were selected to ensure the longevity of the system.

SHAWCO & DELL Solar Computer Lab

Grey Green installed a 1.5kW off-grid Solar PV system in a computer container. The container uses state of the art computing technology sponsored by Dell, allowing up to 11 workstations to be run off one server. All equipment selected for the container is energy efficient, carrying top marks in the Energy Star ratings system, thus allowing for a smaller solar system to be used. A mixture of locally manufactured and imported equipment was used. The programme was such a success that Dell has announced that a further two solar computer lab containers will be made available for SHAWCO.

Off-Grid Solar PV for Zambian Clinic

The Peace Parks Foundation contracted Grey Green to provide on-going consulting services to oversee the supply of three off-grid Solar PV systems to provide power to two schools and a clinic in a rural community in Zambia. The consulting services comprised reviewing a number of local supplier quotes and designs as well as making recommendations to improve the efficiency of the design and ensure more reliability and safety.

Lightbox Training for Community

The training was divided broadly into four themes. The first of which was to provide the basic wiring skills necessary to be able to carry out safe and reliable repairs to the systems. This included a description of all the necessary tools, what they are used for how to use them. The tools were used for cutting, stripping and crimping wire, which are essential skills. Furthermore this included practical training, whereby each student would need to cut, strip and crimp wires to an acceptable standard.

The second theme covered training on the basics of how each main component worked, which included the solar panel, battery, charge controller, switch and fuse. The students were required to be able to describe what the function of each of the components was, and how they all related to each other.

The third theme focussed on how the system was designed, or more specifically how it was wired internally. The training involved using an example Lightbox, which was disassembled into its component pieces, and slowly put back together one piece at time until the system was working again. This also involved a discussion of the purpose of each of the components and why it was wired the way it was. The students were then required to each disassemble the components and then rewire it themselves with limited help. This was completed successfully by all present.

The fourth and final part of the training was to diagnose and repair faulty Lightboxes. A message was sent out to the community to bring in their Lightboxes if they needed repair. The faulty systems were then diagnosed and repaired by the students themselves, with supervision.

Msobomvu Solar Home Lighting Systems

Our team of 4 Grey Green engineers and 12 local volunteers assembled and installed 250 Lightbox systems in 3 weeks in Msobomvu, Eastern Cape. We achieved this without having or needing access to any other power sources on site.