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Hack Stiernblad - Greenlight

Hack Stiernblad - Greenlight

 

My project is about starting a solar cell company in Kenya that will sell and install solar cells with focus on people living in towns and companies. We also want to offer a amortization schedule where you pay as you use your electricity. I have had a interest in solar cell technology the last two years but after visiting Kenya last autumn and doing some research of the market I realised the potential. 

I’m a 25 years old LTH student from Skåne and just finished my third year in the electronics programme, I have also studied 1 year agriculture. Beside my studies I have been active in Teknologkårens Näringslivsgrupp (TLTH), been on the board of three farming companies and on the board and for the last year chairman for my housing society. But most importantly I have been running an event company in Lund with three friends for the last 1,5 years.

I would like to start a Kenyan company, build a business model and a business plan for the Kenyan market. I will also contact solar panel manufacturer and calculate what we can offer our costumers. When the company feels ready the next step is to contact possible investors to finance my project further. 


Hack Stiernblad - Greenlight #2

 

 We have gone through the whole design process of solar cell systems. It starts with setting up a goal for the project like “To design a on-grid fallback system for a holiday home with its entire electricity requirements”.  When the goal is found we calculated the energy requirements for all the devices that is needed and tried to minimize the electric use. After that we went through parameters like the effects of shade, power point efficiencies, the effect of high temperatures.  When this is done its time to approximate the cost and working out the dimensions. Next step is surveying the site which includes identifying the path of the sun, future shading problems, angle of the solar panel and the mounting. Also positioning batteries, controllers and inverters is a important part.

We realised after some research that even though its according to Kenyan law connecting to the grid and get settled by a feed-in-tariff this is sadly not the case.  The government owned company that control the whole grid wont let you connect because they don’t want any competition on the energy market, corruption at its peek. This forced us to look on other solar systems where you don’t send the electricity out on the grid such as a fallback system. A fallback system means that the solar panel is only connected to a battery that you take your electricity from. When the battery runs flat it switches from the battery to the grid and you get your electricity from the grid.  

We will focus on grid fallback systems and grid-tie with power backup systems for now even though we heard that there was one company that was aloud to make a grid connection. But the problem with the on-grid systems is that when you have a power outage your whole system goes out and you still have the same problem. That’s why we believe in the battery backup systems.

We will in near future start to contact solar –cell, battery, inverter and controller manufacturer. We have already have a inkling of which manufacturer that is better but we need to take in offers so that we can calculate with real numbers that applies to the Kenya market. 


Hack Stiernblad - Greenlight # 3

 

It has been three very interesting and tough months with it’s up and downs. I have learned a lot about solar cell systems and how to use them in different areas especially for the Kenyan market. To meet other leapfrogers with their ideas and entrepreneurship has been very inspirational. The workshop and interview questions have been interesting and it’s always good to take a step back and reflect over some of these questions. Overall this time with leapfrog has been three very learning months theoretical, entrepreneurial and social. 

The calculation part has been very tough and taken much more time than initially estimated but has at the same time been very educational and satisfying. Finding the information about how to start a company as a foreigner in Kenya and how to get a permit in a legal way has been exciting and has also made this project more real. One of the toughest but funniest tasks was to get an employment or an internship at a solar company in Kenya.

Even tough I haven’t come as far as I wanted with the company I’m still satisfied with what I have accomplished these three months. I now fully understand solar cells/systems and can apply them to different applications. I’m also after two interviews very close to get a 3 months internship at a company that manufacture and sell solar-pumping drip irrigation systems to Kenyan farmers. So for this I have taken at least one-year study break and will definitely work and develop this project further in Kenya.

You need to fully understand your idea or product to be able to develop it. If you don’t understand it there is a big risk that you are in the wrong sector of the market or maybe another company will overcome you with a better product. Also to be free minded and have easy to let go of the old idea if you find a new one or a better version of the old, you often end up in a total different place than you planned from the beginning.

Tips for new entrepreneurs:

Just do it! It will never happened if you don’t try, maybe you had the wrong idea from the beginning and it didn’t work out or you find a new idea on the way or you develop your idea to a better one. The point is it doesn’t matter; the important thing is that either way you will be one experience richer and know what you can improve till next time.  So just do it and use your common sense!

 

 

Leapfrogs Working Group
LU Innovation, Sölvegatan 16
Box 117, 221 00 Lund

info [at] leapfrogs.se