This post is also available in: Afrikaans
Modern farmers depend on an uninterrupted electricity supply for various operations such as irrigation pumps, temperature control in chicken houses and cooling chambers, grain dryers and milking machines. For the farmer, electricity is a necessity for continuous production, not a luxury.
In 2007, Saro Agro Industrial Ltd established a standalone power department which covers the whole spectrum of electricity. They have become so popular that they were awarded the contract to supply the biggest hospital in Zambia with backup electricity. ZESCO also bought many of their generators to provide power to whole townships.
Simon Nyirongo is the Sales and Service Manager of SARO’s Power Division. He says: “In our division we have solar systems and generators. In our generators section, we have domestic generators and industrial generators. Domestic generators can produce from 2 kVA up to 35 kVA. This is typically for a household or a small farm that needs to drive pumps or conduct other smaller operations. Our industrial generators can deliver from 50 kVA up to 1 000 kVA. These generators are perfect for large applications like centre pivot systems, dairies, feed mixing plants and mills.”
Saro Agro also understands the value of human resources. Simon says: “We invest heavily in technical manpower. We have technicians with certificates and even master’s degrees to make sure that whatever we do, we do it professionally.”
Saro Agro can supply a complete project, from costing, right through to backup support. “We have personnel who can go out and assist a farmer to determine his requirements. Our experts can do professional costing, execution, commissioning and more importantly, offering after-sales services,” he says.
Portable solar kits
Saro Agro recently introduced a new range of portable solar kits. The Zambian electricity grid reaches only 30% of the population. This means that there is an enormous opportunity to supply power to 70% of the population. In addition to this, their market is price sensitive, therefore, they strive towards offering quality solar solutions at affordable prices.
As seen in the picture above, SARO has invested in various high quality and affordable multi-functional portable solar kits. Their stock includes a solar power lantern which has an electric mosquito coil to kill any mosquitoes that come into contact with it. Another kit model includes a solar powered radio with three LED bulbs with their respective light switches.
In some rural areas, kerosene lamps are used at night for children while they study or for basic lighting purposes. But kerosene lamps can be quite costly in the long run, as one has to keep buying kerosene on a regular basis. Further to this, if it is not handled correctly, it can also present a fire hazard. Health complications can also arise due to the smoke. As a quick and cost-effective solution for illumination in the rural areas, Saro Agro offers solar powered reading lamps with built-in solar panels. The built-in batteries can be charged during daytime to provide more than eight hours of light at night. With this lamp, free energy from the sun is used and no other maintenance costs are required.
For camping enthusiasts, or for those who travel out into the field where access to grid power is limited, Saro Agro also have solar powered banks in the shape of a “trolley bag” as seen in the picture (above). Once the bag is open, two solar panels charge the built-in batteries, allowing the use of laptops, mobile phones and some energy saving lights.
Solar pumping inverters or mini-grids
Saro Agro also recently invested in inverters which are dedicated for pumps. These inverters are powered by the sun to run your conventional grid-powered single phase pumps. If you have load shedding issues during the daytime, this solar pumping inverter is your answer. For the larger solar systems, where clients require larger appliances to be powered by the sun, Saro Agro will send out experts to design systems complying with individual needs. They determine how many panels are required and what kind of systems will work best.
Saro Agro is also preparing for the Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariff Strategy, a government power sector initiative to accelerate private investment in small and medium sized renewable energy projects of up to 20 MW. This will increase access to clean energy services to supplement other government power generation investment programmes.