On July 15th, the world’s first SolarKiosk was officially opened near Lake Langano, Ethiopia. The portable solar shop was designed in Germany by Graft architects and provides an “autonomous business unit” that sells energy, products, tools and services. With approximately 1.5 billion people around the globe who remain without access to a stable source of light, the SolarKiosk is intended to provide a safe and affordable solution for inhabitants in off-the-grid areas.
In the past, people in developing nations have typically relied on things like kerosene lamps and diesel generators, despite the fact that they are typically toxic, hazardous and expensive forms of light and energy. With solar technology becoming cheaper and more accessible, however, the SolarKiosk can now offer a clean energy service that is economical, even for the underprivileged.
Equipped with rooftop photovoltaic panels, the energy hub will provide enough power for solar lighting, mobile phones, car batteries, a computer and even a solar fridge. Furthermore, local residents will be able to purchase solar lanterns, mobile phones, re-charge cards and refreshments that one typically finds in a kiosk. Since the kiosk is most likely to house the only refrigerator in the community, it can also be used to store community emergency supplies and medicines.
As a local business, the SolarKisok will provide training and secure jobs to several people from the community. This will include training that will educate kiosk operators on how solar products work, how to maintain them, and the everyday workings of a sustainable business.
The SolarKiosk concept is designed as a light-weight structure that is delivered in a kit of parts. The kiosk can be assembled on site using local materials and in extreme cases can even be transported on the back of a donkey. The basic model can be modified to create a larger structure or a series of small kiosks, while the largest SolarKiosk prototype can generate enough power to run a telecom tower.
It is envisioned that these SoarKiosks could provide a service that brings the community together, offering a communications center and even a night-time cinema or television broadcasts, bringing light and entertainment to parts of the developing world that currently remain in the dark.
“What we dream of is that these people at night, can not only enjoy cold beer but maybe they can even watch TV,” said creator Lars Krückeberg during a TED talk in Berlin.
With the first functional SolarKiosk operating in Ethiopia, the creators are looking for business partners and NGO's who can help bring the kiosks to parts of the world where they are most needed.