Milestone Posts

Announcing GoSol - UC Berkeley MDP Collaboration

Posted Friday 15 February 2019 by Urs Riggenbach.

We are excited to announce the start of a collaboration with the MDP program at UC Berkeley, California.

UC Berkeley’s Master of Development Practice (MDP) equips the next generation of professionals with the knowledge, skills and interdisciplinary experience needed for sustainable development in the direction of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

GoSol’s work has been documented to impact 7 SDGs and our experience and unique model make for a great collaboration case with the master students interested in both theoretical and hands-on experiential learning.

Our cooperation will focus on the development of impact measurement and modeling methodologies and systems. As GoSol’s impact scales, so do the challenges of tracking and modeling the impact of our technology, products and projects.

We’re excited about the cooperation start and look forward to start engaging the students in just a week from now.

More about the MDP program: https://mdp.berkeley.edu/


7 Sustainable Development Goals made real for Eva Nangira, a young solar entrepreneur in Uganda

Posted Thursday 20 December 2018 by Lorin Symington.

We’d like to introduce you to Eva Nangira, one of the youth mentors at the SmartUp Factory Tororo Hub. Eva is a very attentive student and really grasps the significance of our SOL5 oven. In this short video, she describes the impact that the SOL5 oven is having on her life.

Eva focuses on the impact that this business will have on her and the other young women being trained. Women in Uganda face serious challenges when they enter the workforce and it is our hope that along with SmartUp Factory and Plan International, we can empower many more women to become sustainable self employed.

It’s very clear that when you want to do things, you have positivity and an entrepreneurial mindset, the access to energy, to a clean and powerful energy source, is really key. We are so grateful because thanks to entrepreneurs like Eva and all the groups from Kenya and Tanzania, we are proving that there is an appropriate clean energy solution for all these people that are not in developed economies. It is more or less expected that developing countries will develop and grow like Western countries have, but here at GoSol.solar we believe that solutions must be adapted to their reality, and their reality is: tons of sun that they can harvest to be free from fossil fuels and reduce deforestation.

SOL5 replaces fire wood, charcoal, LPG and poor electric grids to power activities during all the sunny season. During the rainy season, the entrepreneurs have to use a mix which is fine because they made savings the rest of the year and they can afford it.

 

The Sustainable Development Goals

Solar thermal energy is accessible for all and once widely implemented, will have dramatic and far reaching effects on our world. The Sustainable Development Goals have been established by the UN for the 2030 Agenda. The 17 SDG’s are the pillars of a new society, based on sustainable development for all.

Our Concentrated Solar Power solution is directly impacting 7 of these goals and affects some others.

Goal 1 End Poverty ​Universal access to solar thermal energy will create new economic opportunities for millions of people in food processing. Energy plays a key role in breaking the poverty trap; when people use clean solar energy that is locally built they can process food and create products with added value.

Goal 5 ​Gender Equality ​By empowering women and girls with access to free, clean solar energy, they have more time to go to school and engage in meaningful income generating activities instead of chopping wood. They’ll also benefit from better health due to reduced exposure to toxic smoke.

Goal 7 Affordable and Clean Energy ​Solar energy is one of the cleanest and most cost effective sources of energy. GoSol solar thermal technology has a return on investment of 18 months.

Goal 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth ​GoSol technology promotes decent work conditions due to the elimination of harmful pollution from burning biomass and enhances economic growth by balancing fossil fuel driven trade deficits while reducing the wasted labour represented by biomass collection and burning.

Goal 10 Reduce Inequalities ​Sunshine is distributed more equally than many other sources of energy. By enhancing distributed access to clean, free solar energy at all levels of society from smallholder farmers to industry, GoSol technology is reducing the inequalities inherent in centralized energy systems.

Goal 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities ​Cities and communities are only as sustainable as the energy upon which they are based. By enhancing access to renewable and clean solar thermal energy, GoSol technology is ensuring communities can thrive long term.

Goal 13 Climate Action ​Solar thermal technology reduces deforestation, particulate pollution and the emission of greenhouse gases. GoSol’s solar thermal technology can be implemented globally to make an impact within the 12 years limit set by the most recent IPCC report.

Recently the International Panel on Climate Change has called for sweeping changes to society in order to minimize the damage of climate change and GoSol technology can play a big role in that.

Our budding entrepreneurs in Uganda have a lot to say and we’ll be sharing more of their stories and perspectives in the coming weeks, stay tuned.


Announcing Partnership with Forest Trends

Posted Saturday 20 October 2018 by Eva Wissenz.

GoSol is landing in South America! We are very happy about our latest partnership with the organization Forest Trends and excited to start in Brazil where we have a lot of demand for our SOL5.

Forest Trends is a US based NGO supported by USAID and IKEA Foundation. One of their goals is to support the creation of supply chains that allow the indigenous communities to market sustainable harvested forest produce. By supporting the sustainable production of for example roasted nuts, dried seeds and fruits, it becomes possible to leverage globalization to improve the livelihoods of the indigenous communities and strengthen their position to protect the forests.

The cooperation between GoSol, Forest Trends and the indigenous communities starts by identifying the most value-adding uses for solar thermal energy and how to best boost the local communities’ livelihoods. For many energy intensive processes, such as dehydrating, roasting and other food processing, the GoSol technology will allow the communities to tap into the free power of the sun, for processes for which they would have had to use firewood.

Once the first phase of the project is completed, the solution can then be scaled to support indigenous communities throughout the world’s rainforests to protect their livelihoods and enable sustainable supply chains.

The project started October 2018 in the state of Rondônia, Brazil.

The Amazon, the worlds largest rain forest home to many indigenous communities.
Indigenous communities are at the forefront of forest preservation.

Transition Time for GoSol: New Video,
Scaling the Direct Solar Economy

Posted Friday 19 October 2018 by Eva Wissenz.

Dear Friends, Partners, Customers and Followers,

It’s an important moment for us: GoSol has achieved the Direct Solar Economy vision! By providing a clean source of energy to SME’s and farmers, a sustainable economy has started in sunny developing countries.

The educational trainings with Plan International in Uganda is the last building brick of our vision. Everything that had to be proven is proven now: the SOL5 is working, it can be produced locally, entrepreneurs are using it daily, it has a measured impact, and many young trainees want to start a sustainable business right now (and some already did!). The market is there and international partners are working with us... Now is the time to scale up.

In this 5min video, we are presenting our journey, our ecosystem of amazing partners and supporters and the achievements over the past years.

We hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we do. Big thanks to Urs Riggenbach and our amazing video maker, Basile Remaury!


GoSol’s full vision starting in Uganda
with Plan International

Posted Tuesday 4 September 2018 by Eva Wissenz, Lorin Symington.

Since the very beginning, the way we see it at GoSol is that we must deliver an efficient and powerful solar concentrator, and a training to users, and… more. Over the past years, we have refined the SOL5 to the point where local entrepreneurs can actually use it daily to save money, increase their incomes, and develop their businesses. And this is happening when it’s sunny, and even on cloudy days depending on the cloud-cover. When it’s not possible to use solar heat in the rainy season, then users can go back to their old system for a couple of weeks. But the impact of polluting industries and climate change’s horrible side effects being what they are (deforestation, drought, people migrating away from the countryside in search for a better life…), something more than a device and training was needed to accelerate the adoption of SOL5: education.

So I’m here in Kisumu, Kenya since about 2 weeks to start a new cooperation with Plan International Finland and Plan Uganda’s SmartUp Factory project. With years of experience building in about 10 different developing countries, after monitoring about 5 baker groups in Kenya and Tanzania over the last two years, with support from Autodesk Foundation to create a construction manual, with a CTO that is also a baker, all our team has build a great educational training course that I’m so happy to share.

It’s good to be back in Kisumu, the team is now autonomous when it comes to producing these solar concentrators and baking equipment. Truly it’s an exciting development and it’s something we’ve been working towards for a long time. So far I’ve been on quality control, checking in with them at their workshop, ordering materials and documenting the progress.

Completion of welding of a SOL5 Oven.

I’ve also been reconnecting with our partners, visiting our newest pilot project and preparing for the upcoming educational and business incubation program with Plan International. I’ll be spending a few weeks at Plan’s SmartUp Factories in two hubs in Uganda. At each location I’ll be working with about 12 young people who are energetic and motivated to have an impact in their communities through innovation and entrepreneurship. Part of the idea with the SmartUp Factories is that Plan recognizes that people from poor communities are uniquely positioned to identify challenges facing their communities and, properly empowered, are the best people to address those challenges.

SmartUp Factory participants. © Plan International.

Given the success of our pilot projects in Kenya and Tanzania, 5 of which are bakeries, we’re going to be teaching a well rounded course combining hands-on training and theoretical knowledge where the students will learn to install, use and maintain our SOL5 concentrators, as well as learn about the science of energy, the impact of our solar thermal tech on environmental and health issues, as well as the baking and business skills needed to run a bakery, or another business of their choice.

A Kenyan solar baker preparing a SOL5 for baking.

In the past we’ve worked with already established bakers, but this time we’ll be training from the ground up. You might remember that I got the chance to bake all sorts of treats in South Africa a few years ago, and I remember the super enthusiastic kids from Greenside Primary School!

In Johannesburg, 300 kids from Greenside Primary School loved the solar baked treats!

I remember also all the creativity of students! Like for example Rorisa, a young entrepreneur. Between that trip and these first feedbacks and today, we are thrilled to see that our vision is becoming true!

On top of this, our CTO Arnaud, has been baking traditional French bread for a couple of years now, developing a deep understanding of the art of baking and the science behind it. He has been coaching me, I’ve baked with our pilot projects, and I’ve started a sourdough culture from scratch that we hope will be pleasing to the people in Uganda because real sourdough bread stays fresh much longer than bread leavened with chemical starters, and so is especially appropriate for a solar powered business.

Preparing sourdough.

We have our ideas about business, but we’re really committed to supporting the students of Plan’s SmartUp Factories to create businesses according to their own ideas of what their communities need. This upcoming educational course is just the first step on a beautiful journey of co-creation.

In the coming weeks I’ll be sharing stories and examples of success stories from the SmartUp Factories as well as footage and ideas of motivated students who are going to help establish the Direct Solar Economy in Uganda!

 

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Announcing Partnership with Plan International Finland and SmartUp Factory programme in Uganda

Posted Friday 13 July 2018 by Urs Riggenbach.

In partnership with Plan International Finland and Plan International Uganda, we are starting a new cooperation in Uganda providing our SOL5 solar concentrators and educational trainings to the SmartUp Factory program.

SmartUp Factory is driven by the idea that "since the poor and marginalized youth experience the challenges in their community and society first hand they are in a crucial position to identify those challenges and come up with innovative solutions to them."

Every month, Plain International Uganda is welcoming 20-30 new youths to the
venue and they receive full access to the mentoring, trainings and equipment. The program is currently running in six locations in Uganda.

In this project, GoSol is providing SOL5 units, hands on trainings, theoretical lessons and support with the incubation of solar bakeries.

We are excited about this partnership and the potential to empower more and more entrepreneurs with our SOL5 through education.

Stay tuned for more updates by subscribing
to our newsletter:

 

SmartUp Factory has empowered over 3500 young people from Uganda with the skills needed for social entrepreneurship.


Autodesk Foundation renewing support for 2018

Posted Thursday 26 April 2018 by Eva Wissenz.

Last February, Autodesk Foundation team visited 2 groups of entrepreneurs in Kenya and they were fully convinced by the impact of the SOL5. On the top picture, our followers can identify Mr David Chepkwony, first solar baker in Kenya, always so enthusiastic and happy with his SOL5 at Koptige!

Jean Shia and Ryan Macpherson of Autodesk Foundation visiting the pilot projects (4th and 3rd from the left).

Our team is so happy to announce that the Autodesk Foundation (USA) is renewing us a grant this year to support our work for a very exciting support program.

Thanks to Autodesk Foundation, we were invited last year at Pier9 in San Francisco to learn CNC and prototype and they actively supported our educational actions in Kenya with our partner World Vision Kenya and World Vision Finland.

All the team is very motivated to continue the good job and expand the solar fire as much as possible!

Autodesk is inviting us at the Near Future Summit in California in May, so stay tuned!!


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