BITRI’s solar lights hit the streets
At the end of the trip we agreed to share solar technology platform between SERIS and BITRI. SERIS developed a solar street light that incorporated technologies that were in line with our line of thought.
Chief Executive Officer of Botswana Institute for Technology Research and Innovation (BITRI), Professor Nelson Torto has indicated that in coming up with the idea of a solar street light project, his institution is thinking off the grid, it strongly believes and favours green practises and the use of renewables, “hence the effort that we have put towards advancing the takeup of solar street lighting in Botswana.”The organisation has a solar plant assemble facility in Kanye where the solar street lights are assembled by a number of young Batswana ICT graduates. This initiative came from Torto’s trip to Singapore in 2013, together with two board members, where they had attended a renewable energy conference and also toured the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS).
“At the end of the trip we agreed to share solar technology platform between SERIS and BITRI. SERIS developed a solar street light that incorporated technologies that were in line with our line of thought. The light was a single unit, it used an environmentally friendly battery and also employed LEDs that are viewed to last longer and are more brighter. It had good aesthetics compared to what was on the market,” said Torto.
He said it was further agreed that two components should be introduced in the street light, the Wi Fi connectivity and the security capability, noting that initially, BITRI was responsible for the security component and eventually it also addressed the issue of Wi Fi connectivity. “So technically the solar street light can be used to surf the internet and also be part of a security system that transmits images that would have been triggered by movement (through the motion sensor),” he explained.
However, the solar street lights that are currently being assembled at the BITRI solar plant assemble facility that the media toured last week do not have these two features because, the organisation highlighted, the security feature would require a camera that transmits images that would have been triggered by movement and this requires power that is a lot more than what is currently provided by a battery that is powered by a solar panel. This, the organisation said, would drain the battery and therefore there would be no power for the street light to perform its primary function.
Torto said BITRI has since designed its own light with new characteristics and they anticipate that there will be more designs that are appropriate for various applications that will be produced from the facility based at the Kanye campus. He indicated that they have since installed the solar street lights in several villages around the country. “We also anticipate that our collaborations with various councils will be intensified since the facility is ready for production,” he concluded.