Solar Powered Computers For Africa

A University of Nottingham Innovation Park based business has been developing a solar-powered computing solution for classroom environments.

Sustainable Computers offers its Solar Ready ICT solutions as a completely off-grid package with energy storage. It can also be used with mains supplies, where it can offer with 70% electricity savings.

In most business, residential and classroom environments; electricity is supplied as Alternating Current (AC). It then has to be converted to Direct Current (DC) when used with some appliances – including computers. This conversion, which occurs through components inside the appliance, involves some loss of energy.

In the case of a standard mains grid connected solar power system, the loss is more pronounced as solar panels output DC, a solar inverter converts it to AC, then it is converted back into DC by the converter within the appliance.

Solar Ready ICT does away with this double conversion.

“Each of the system components is designed to maximise power efficiency. DC power is distributed directly to each computer and screen, doing away with the need for wasteful power inverters, enabling our solar-powered solutions to operate in both daylight and dark hours,” states the Sustainable Computers web site.

Already in use by some students in Africa, an article published on the University of Nottingham’s web site says a project involving the University and the Institute of Physics will utilise these systems in  five teacher training centres in Ethiopia.

University of Nottingham Innovation Park (UNIP) is more than just a place for businesses such as Sustainable Computers to operate from.

“There are lots of entrepreneurs based here who find the dynamic environment and the access to academic expertise and talented students invaluable as a means of sparking new ideas, thinking and working more innovatively,” says Bob Scott, Director UNIP.


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