GCIP-SA alumnus Andre Nel with GreenTower, a solar energy micro-grid boiler, was one of 16 of the continent’s most promising entrepreneurs who were shortlisted for the 2016/2017 Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation of the Royal Academy of Engineering. Launched in 2014, the Prize aims to stimulate, celebrate and reward innovative engineers from across the continent. Nel was invited to present the Green Tower to the Duke of York, Prince Andrew, in London on 20 March 2017, at Pitch@Palace.
Nel shifted his attention from rocket science to solving electricity supply and carbon emission problems. His solution to the high-energy usage and carbon footprints of household geysers is GreenTower, a solar-powered micro-grid and geyser system. The patent-pending GreenTower geyser uses 90% less energy than a standard geyser, making it possible to run it with solar power.
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Water is heated directly by the sun in a series of thermal black pipes and low pressure storage tanks. Once the water is hot it is pressurised using the electrical energy generated by the photovoltaic solar panels. The water is kept hot overnight using the same electrical energy.
Any excess electricity is fed back into the grid to avoid wastage, or used to power LED lights and essential household appliances. Owners can monitor the hybrid system’s performance and energy consumption remotely, online.
The GreenTower system is designed as a large-scale solution to energy challenges. A single unit, packaged in recycled shipping containers that have been insulated, can service 15 homes and reduce the electricity demand from a community by 65%, considerably easing pressure on the national power grid.
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