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Assessment Trip – Day 4

Friday December 20, 2013

The Assessment Team again split up today, with Jeff remaining at the Rosa Mystica in order to work on the remote data logging and telemetry technology. Parts of the anemometer were damaged in-transit, and the many components are hard to come by in Kenya.

The remaining portion of the team went to visit Craftskills in the morning and BBOXX in the evening. With the Christmas Holiday starting next week, it was expected that the traffic would be especially bad. This turned out to be true.

Craftskill was founded by Simon—a native Kenyan—and a linguist by training. During his time traveling, he learned how to manufacture small scale wind turbines. His basic premise is to use scavenged inductor motors and convert them into synchronous AC generators by removing the squirrel cage rotor and replacing it with rare earth magnets. The blades are formed from fiberglass.  Simon is a truly creative and resourceful individual!

Simon is eager to show us several examples of how his turbines are able to achieve high voltages—in excess of 400VAC.  Simon has made over 100 turbines in the last 10 years. His largest is behemoth, rated at over 10 kW. Our meeting with Simon was very memorable, and it is encouraging to see his home-grown Kenyan innovation.

We then traveled to BBOXX. After about 3 hours of stop-and-go traffic, we arrived there in the late afternoon. BBOXX sells portable battery kits, which are self-contained rechargeable battery boxes. They allow the user to connect LED lights and recharge cellular phones.  We met with Ansul. Ansul runs the local BBOXX office, which is co-located with this family’s grain milling plant.

BBOXX has varieties in the following sizes (all in 12V Ah): 5, 7, 12, 7, 38. The most popular is the 7Ah, but the larger ones (17 and up) are mostly used by businesses. In addition to PBK, BBOXX has several products that allow consumers to move up the energy ladder: lights, radios, computers, refrigerators, etc. This is very reminiscent to what happened in the United States when Sam Insull and others were stimulating electricity demand by selling appliances.

Anshul was eager to ship three samples to Migori for us to pick up (5Ah, 7AH, 12 Ah kits), for comparison with the other PBKs (Bright box). We are excited to test out his products and gather feedback from the people of Muhuru Bay!

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