Small-Scale Use of Solar Power in Remote, Developing Regions: A Case Study

  •  Brian Osende    
  •  John Abraham    
  •  Greg Mowry    


A solar-power-based electrical system was designed to provide power to a small, remote village in Western Uganda. The purpose of the project was to electrify the village by providing lighting and electrical outlets for use with small electronic devices. The size of the village (fifty homes, one school, and one pharmacy) allowed a centrally positioned solar-battery system that was directly wired to the houses. The system was designed in a modular manner so that redundancy could be achieved and security was improved; the system would continue to function after the loss of a portion of the solar-charging station.

The entire system required eight solar panels, each capable of producing 175W in full sunlight. The panels were used to charge two 12V batteries which were connected in series to produce 24V of DC power. The batteries, which were charged during daytime, are discharged at night when power is utilized by the village. To improve the process by which energy is transferred to the batteries, a Maximum Power Point Tracking system (MPPT) was used. Inverters were instituted to transform the DC power from the batteries to 240V AC power for transmission.

Following the successful implementation of the system, an education program was instituted to ensure proper maintenance of the system in the coming years. Plans are already underway to ensure that periodic replacement of certain components (e.g. batteries) is accomplished to ensure that the system is able to continue to provide electricity for years to come.

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