Apr 04, 2023

SolCoolDry: Using Solar Energy to Improve Food Security in Rural Africa

The SolCoolDry project is aimed at addressing the challenges faced by fishermen and farmers in rural areas of Africa due to the lack of access to electricity, which makes it difficult to preserve their products. The project was developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in collaboration with Innotech Ingenieursgesellschaft mbH, local Kenyan partners, and research institutions such as the Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute KIRDI and the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute KMFRI.

The SolCoolDry system includes a 15 kWp photovoltaic system that generates electricity to power an ice machine and cold room. The excess solar power is stored in batteries for later use, and up to 1500 kilograms of ice can be produced within 24 hours. In addition, two solar tunnel dryers are used to dry agricultural and marine products continuously throughout the day. The drying process can also be sustained at night using heating pipes supplied with heat from a flat-plate collector and a 2000-liter hot water storage tank.

The SolCoolDry system has been well-received by the local community, and demand for ice has exceeded expectations. The project has been presented to representatives of the local communities, politicians, installers, and the press at a workshop in Mombasa. The facility was officially opened and handed over to the Beach Management Unit, an association of local fishermen, mangrove planters, farmers, beekeepers, and kelp farmers, in the presence of government officials and other organizations such as the Kenya Wildlife Service.

Training courses will be provided to ensure sustainable operation, and fishermen will be trained in quality assurance and hygienic processing of their products. Fraunhofer ISE will continue to monitor the plant and record data in a monitoring system for remote diagnosis. The SolCoolDry system is expected to help improve food security and increase income for fishermen and farmers in rural areas of Africa.