September 29, 2008 Designed to address the problem of access to critical utilities in remote areas and developing nations that lack the necessary infrastructure, Envision Solar International's modular self-contained LifeVillage integrates clean power and water treatment into buildings and communities, no matter what the location.

The LifeVillage concept includes Envision Solar’s LifePort and LifePod modular steel-frame structures that are equipped with solar panels that provide between 1.5 and 4 kW of electricity. Energy storage is provided in the form of batteries to supply electricity outside of daylight hours. The LifeVillage also incorporates a self-contained water treatment unit to capture and reuse water.

The entire package can be shipped in two shipping containers for assembly on-site in around two weeks. According to creators Robert Noble and William Adelson, the inspiration behind LifeVillage was the telecommunications industry in Africa. “With the use of mobile telephones, the system is highly decentralized; effectively, satellite technology evolved more quickly than did the ability to install infrastructure in Africa,” said Noble. The original LifePort and LifePod products were intended to be enabling technologies for photovoltaics and other clean technology but, according to Noble, “the LifeVillage offers a full solution by adding utility for an off-grid solution for remote areas without access to traditional infrastructure.”

Applications for the LifeVillage include the creation of medical clinics, schools, housing for doctors and teachers, cell, mobile telephone, radio, TV, WiFi, and WiMax facilities and transmission. “The combination of international building code engineered buildings, solar energy generation and battery storage provides all that is needed to improve health, safety, education, economics and general quality of life around every project or team has planned,” Noble says.

A demonstration project featuring the LifeVillage is planned for installation in Cote d’Ivoire, on the west coast of Africa. In partnership with ZBB Energy Corporation, the Envision Solar project will provide critical community buildings, powered by solar energy with battery support, and with a self-contained water treatment system. A prototype will be constructed in the United States and tested prior to deployment at one hundred villages in Cote d’Ivoire. The Cote d’Ivoire project, at the specific request of the country’s Ministry of Energy, will incorporate a small medical clinic and a schoolhouse, including the housing for a resident doctor or nurse and the housing for a resident teacher.

Emily Clark

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