Wednesday August 13, 2014
Last night came to a close with a large storm. High winds and rains had us taking cover after dinner (our dinners consisted of white rice, potatoes, chicken vegetable stew, yellow lentils and a warm tusker beer). It was too bad the wind turbines were not installed, we would have been harnessing lots of power! Those of us staying at the guest house in Muhuru Bay lost power for most of the night. The few businesses that do have electricity are located several miles from Kristy’s Cape Academy, and even with a grid connection, the power is intermittent at best.
Perhaps the biggest excitement for us and many of the locals was a sighting of a large hippopotamus on the shore. It caused quite a stir, with about 100 people gathering to watch the spectacle. The hippo spent about 15 minutes on shore before returning to Lake Victoria.
Progress was made on several fronts today. The wind turbine tower foundation continues to harden. Trenches have been dug and the mounting racks for the solar panels are being installed on the roof. The charger controllers and inverter have been installed in headmaster’s house, and we are getting the data logging equipment connected. The energy kiosk is taking shape, thanks to the hard work of Michael.
Kristine and Henry did more interviews with families in the area. The homes are modest. The people are generally happy, but long for electricity. Almost everyone we’ve talked to stays up no later than 9PM, and use kerosene or small battery-powered lamps. They have to walk or hire a motor bike to have their phones and batteries recharged.
Training of Zebedee, the microgrid manager, started today. Although a more formal training program will occur later, Henry took the opportunity to discuss important concepts such as voltage, power, and energy. Zebedee already knew many of these concepts, but now he was applying them to the battery kits. He did calculations determining how long the battery kit would last with various numbers of lights, radios and TVs connected. He is a quick learner and very good at math!
Andrew and Jenna made the trip to Homa Bay (about 3 hours by car) to run errands and, importantly, to pick the first installment of BBOXXs (the portable battery kit). At the time of this writing they have not returned, but the whole team is looking forward to getting our first stock. Lately, Andrew has been moonlighting as a trainer for the local soccer group, introducing them to different stretches, and in the process being humbled by the athleticism of the locals.